Good news, everyone!
tl;dr I wanted to see, how Order of Hermes (Order) developed during history: what was its power during different ages, how many mages were there, how much vis did they use. To do so I’ve made a simple demographic model of mage population (based on a very simplified version of my demographic models for several countries), made a projection of past and future populations until ~2100AD. And then it all clicked together and I’ve wrote several ideas for the games about development of the Order of Hermes up to modern times.
Demographic model has following parameters.
- It models changes in population of Hermetic mages with 50 years increments.
It’s stated that Order is founded in 767, conquers Europe in about 40 years, has Diedne Schism and Tytalus March about 1000 AD and the game takes place in 1220. If I add 50 years 767 onwards I can get data on these periods with satisfying accuracy (i.e. Europe conquered in 817, Schism is 1017, data for “today” is for 1217).
Moreover, we have estimations of population of Europe for each century that can be plausibly expanded for 50 year intervals.
This model can be expanded for 10 year periods, but it’s unnecessary, because external variables are pretty shitty. I’ve spent about 8 hours on these model and text; I’m not paid enough to spend more.
- There’re 5 age groups (age cohorts) of Hermetic mages: 0, 50, etc. ages from Opening the Arts. These are full age categories, i.e. group “0” includes apprentices that just have their arts opened up to 49 full hermetic years. The max group is 200 hermetic years – there’re very few mages of this age, in accordance to rules as written (RAW).
- Every 50 years age cohort of mages gets older and diminishes due to variety of reasons: natural (accidents, adventuring, etc.), conflicts and other events. Natural mortality begins 5% for young mages and grows to 80% for elders. Meaning that from all the mages whose arts were opened 95% survive through their apprenticeships, 86% survive until 50 hermetic years, 68% until 100, 41% until 150 and 8% until 200. This progression looks natural enough for me.
- Every 50 years all Hermetic population gets new mages due to apprenticeships, background conversions (absorption of existing mages into the Order, like Trianoma did) and other events (right now it includes only absorption of 20 Ex Miscellanea mages in 817). Only mages aged 50-150 do convert other mages (5-20% of hermetic mages did 1 conversion every 50 years). All mages older than 50 train new apprentices (about 1.25 apprentices per mage in 50 years on average).
There’re modifiers of survivability for each age group (what % of mages survives to the next age cohort), conversion modifiers (% of mages that converted neutral mage into order) and apprenticeship rate (how many apprentices average mage trains in 50 years).
There’re also ad hoc modifiers of population: inclusion of 20 ex misc mages in 800, and additional mortality due to Diedne and Tytalus of 48 mages (population of 3 Hermetic Houses at the time).
Population model begins in 767 with 13 mages aged 50 (Bonisagus, Trianoma and 11 other founders) with 20 apprentices and new converts aged less than 50. Then it constantly grows until 1217, despite mortality spike in 1017 due to Tytalus and Diedne – number of new apprenticeships allows to absorb increased mortality.
Conclusions on historical population, you might not immediately realize
- According to this model in 1220 the Order is the most populous (and therefore powerful) than ever. In 967 hermetic population was 207 mages (about 16 per House), in 1117 – 526 mages (44 per House), in 1167 – 745 mages (62 per House). There’re about 1056 mages in 1117 (1220) according to my model. There’re 1090 gifted mages in 1220 according to House books (plus about 140 ungifted Mercere, but they don’t count) – the model is precise enough for me.
- In 50 years before 1220 order expanded by about 311 mages – more than ever. It has 487 young mages with Hermetic age below 50, 73 mages older than 150 and about 10 elders aged 200+ - about 1 per house.
- If we assume that average mage uses 10 pawns of vis per year, Order used more than 450 thousand of vis during 1167-1217 (4500 queens of vis btw). They used about 115 thousand vis in 1000 AD, because less mages were present at the time.
- The Schism was stressful enough for the Order at the time, but should conflict arise in 1220 or later it would be several times more deadly. All the deaths from Diedne Schism and Tytalus war (and I supposed that there were enough of them to destroy about 25% of Order’s population at the time) equal to about half of population of an average Hermetic House in 1220.
- Order converted about 28 mages in first hundred years of its existence and kept converting 10-15 more every 50 years (0.25 conversions per magus life, 0.4 in early years, 0.1 in 1220 as there were less independent magicians left). It’s significantly less than natural growth due to apprenticeships, with average mage training 2.4 apprentices during his life (accounting for mage mortality).
- This’s bad wrong model.
- My model assumes gradual rate of growth that is similar to other models of population growth. One can argue that population of the Order grew significantly faster in about 767-1000 due to massed conversions of hedge mages. It’s possible, though, imo, less likely due to smaller population of Order and weakness of its power base during first centuries – therefore it likely was less convincing than in later years, when it really dominated Europe.
- Your model is still bad wrong.
- Listen, you. I have two data points: about 15-30 mages in 767 and 1090 in 1220. I drew a line between them according to my assumptions. Go connect them yourself any way you like.
Should I project this model into future, population of the Order would grow above 6 million mages at 1950-2000. This’s definitely wrong. So some limits on growth on population are needed.
The most obvious limit is availability of raw magic. Should there be less vis available, mages surely would reproduce much slower. It’s also stated in RAW that growth of mundane population leads to destruction of magic sources. As a first and rude approximation I took population density in Europe as an indicator of this process.
According to general feel from the books, Order discovered most of available vis un Europe in 1220. I supposed that there’re still about 25% of vis sources undiscovered. So there’s about 560 thousand of pawns of vis available in 50 years in 1220, of which Order used about 450 thousands.
In 1267 there would be about ~1370 mages, a third more, and should they like to use 10 pawns of vis per year, they would already face vis shortage. In 1317 there would be ~1740 and the shortage will become harsher.
I’ve added apprenticeship activity modifier as follows ((average vis usage per year)/10)*average apprenticeship activity per period, with apprenticeship activity being 1.25 (per 50 years). Meaning that if mage used 8 pawns of vis per year on average (instead of “normal” 10), he would train 1.9 apprentices instead of 2.4 during his life.
So the basic premise is this: as European population grows magic dwindles, as magic dwindles hermetics train less apprentices. Hermetics should discover this process in about 1250-1300 and begin adjusting to it by training less and shifting their research to ways of overcoming this shortage. Due to generational inertia, however, would keep growing until 1350AD. Then it will than stagnate at the level of about 2000 mages until 1500AD with mages using 4.5-5 vis per year on average. Then generational inertia would catch up and hermetic population starts to decline while mages keep surviving on 4-5 pawns of vis per year. The crisis begins in 1800-1900 with mages living on 3-3.5 pawns per year, despite their numbers declining to 600. And 20th century becomes a true test for 400-500 mages living on less than 3 vis per year.
-But I don’t want for Hermetics to die! I think there should be several times more vis available than you say!
Okay, I’ve made additional calculations scenarios with more vis reserves in 1220. They’re in my file. In all of them vis per mage begins to decline in the middle of XV and falls to about 5 pawns around 1600 AD – population growth in Europe is just too big to leave any chance for poor defenseless magic to survive this zerg rush.
You can argue all you want. I don’t care. If you like it, use it. If you don’t like it, go away, make your own.
Ideas for games in renaissance and modern times
Projection of hermetic population and availability of vis would change should a large conflict over scarce resources occur in XIV-XIX centuries, resulting in more vis available for fewer survivors. See any oil-related conflict for ideas.
This projection will change should mage institute hard limits on number of apprenticeships during mage life. See Chinese one child policy and all that surrounds it for ideas.
While magic in the world disappears, there would be less gifted individuals and, possibly, the gift itself would change, lessening social stigma associated with it (by 1 point per century, for example) while making psychical disorders in gifted individuals more common. Learning arts might become harder (xp needed for advancement in arts would slowly reach xp needed for abilities; for example add 1 xp in 100 years, so in 1301-1400 xp cost would rise to 2 for 1 point in art, in 1401-1500 to 3 for 1, 1600 – 4 for 1, and finally from 1601 onwards learning arts would become as hard as abilities).
Mages might become more diversified, elders tightly controlling their sources of vis and keeping really important books away from young mages. Order might turn into secret society based on masonic model.
After Westphalia mages might try to reorganize themselves based on nations. This idea might fail. Or not.
Mages might want to retreat to regios or other realms where magic could still be abundant. Mages might want to descent underground or move to wild regions, like Africa, Siberia or Mongolia, where people still haven’t managed to stomp out vis sources.
Discovery of the New World might result in a “gold rush”-like behavior. It would likely turn into disappointment when mages discover that natives didn’t have strong mages that could be able to stop european colonists – and for a good reason!
Mages would still be able to extract vis from environment, though only vim vis is available this way. It’s fine for opening enchantments, aegis and longevity rituals, but other kinds of vis would become much more valuable.
Possible avenues for hermetic breakthroughs:
- more efficient vis usage,
- more efficient vis extraction,
- ability to extract different kinds of vis from atmosphere,
- changing vis from one kind to another (with discount),
- ability to “breed” vis (for example see Legends of Hermes, The Magical Garden of Herisson – the guy learned to breed magical beasts and herbs to get vis from them; alternatively see nuclear breeder reactors for ideas).
Many mages might become “vis scientists” learning about vis and its wonders, but using it mainly in longevity rituals. They would make charged items and mainly use non-ritual magic while hoarding precious vis.
Information revolution would allow for easier expansion of knowledge, partly compensating for scarcity of magic and harder advancement in arts. Books that seemed impossible to write would become commodity.
Mages would surely try to industrialize vis extraction and manipulation to compensate for its labor intensity.
As hermetic population decreases to less than a thousand mages, more trips around Europe would become necessary to gather vis. Mages would become neo-nomads, reading books while traveling by ship and rail and later by plane and car. Rules wise it might become necessary to measure laboratory seasons in hermetic workdays (or workhours!) to account for interruptions of a fast modern world.
Covenants might loose their importance with development of telegraph, telephone and finally radio and internet. At the same time getting money would become easier for mages with at least token mentem spells - after all, there will be much more wealth around to get.
As science advances, mages would surely try to adjust Hermetic theory to modern knowledge. Schools of Animal, Corpus and Herbam would likely unite forming school that tries to manipulate living organisms (Vitum). Aquam, Auram and Terram would begin to affect liquids, gases and solids in general. Ignem art would expand to include all the energy related things, including electricity (Potentia).
As arts converge new arts might appear: some concerning information, geometry of space, large societies or barriers between worlds that Hermetic Theory couldn’t affect before.
Mages would become more dependent on abilities - to create microprocessor out of thin air its creator should know its architecture!
So, do you want to play with my model all by yourself?
Ahem... It’s almost here... Silly forum rules...
I will link it in my second message.