Redcap Fees

One of our magi is travelling from the south of France to Durenmar. She is being guided most of the way by a series of Redcaps. It occurs to me that the Redcaps should charge for their service, a reasonable rate. That Redcaps charge is supported in HoH: TL, but I don't find much guidance for Redcap fees in the material, although I could have missed something. I suppose many groups just handwave it, but.

A shilling a day? A penny a day? What's a reasonable rate?

HoH:TL p.83f has the general Redcap fees: 3 shilling from every covenant they visit - and thus typically at least a pound of silver per year to live from.

Most Redcaps can bargain that up, if they go out of their way to lead your maga. But if she does not make them deviate from their schedule and pays their travel expenses, this should be fine. The travels magi make for mystery initiations (TMRE p.15) should be very different from standard Redcap schedules.


It's covenant to covenant, much of it Mercer House to Mercer House, but a special engagement across several Tribunals. The Redcaps would ordinarily not walk it - the mail goes by Portal, after all.

The trip will take a full season of just travel.

A quarter-pound seems low - although she is also covering the living expenses, so maybe not. Perhaps 3 shillings per Redcap.

If the mail goes by portal, why shouldn't the maga?

If Redcaps have time to deliver the maga by hand and on foot, all is well: maybe a youngster this way learns the location of the Mercer Houses. But if the Redcaps have other routes to serve, accompanying the maga might be cumbersome, hence expensive. Especially, if the maga has decided beforehand on the season she will travel.


The impression I got is that there is no "standard fee" for these types of services, in part because its not a "standard service" the Redcaps have to perform; they may well refuse. In general, if I were a Redcap, I'd expect the magus to offer "as a token of gratitude" rather than as "payment" an amount of silver, or perhaps vis, proportional to how wealthy that magus is and how useful the service is to him - which, generally speaking, is a lot :slight_smile: I mean, if a magus invests one season of his own in the trip, it must be worth the equivalent of several pawns of vis to him, which in turn might mean at least a dozen and perhaps hundreds of pounds of silver.

Thus, a magus who offers no vis and less than a few pounds of silver - say, less than a shilling a day - may certainly get the Redcaps accept, but consider him a miser (mechanically giving him a Bad Reputation) and refrain, in the future, from offering help or giving that "extra" suggestion. Unless of course the magus is in dire straits, in which case the Redcaps may well help "for free", but expect him to be all the more generous in the future. And if a magus is so stingy as to offer 1 penny/day ... I'd expect the Redcaps to find excuses about being busy with other chores, and the magus getting the bad reputation mentioned aboive.

Did the maga make the arrangements with individual Redcaps or with House Mercere?

If it was with the house, I'd probably look at it as a trade - 1 season of the Redcaps' time as guides in return for 1 season of laboratory work (or something) on behalf of House Mercere from the maga, leaving the house to remunerate the specific Redcaps. That's not to say the maga shouldn't "tip" the individual Redcaps for their service along the way, of course.

If it was with individual Redcaps it becomes more complex but one option might be charged items - the maga can probably manage a decent number of charges of an effect most Redcaps would appreciate/value in a season and dole them out semi-proportionately or something. As a bonus, Durenmar likely has a number of Lab Texts of suitable effects available to work from or copy, if payment of the Redcaps doesn't have to be up front.

I'm not so sure anybody would be happy with the "lots of silver as payment" idea, as it could contribute to the problems the Order seems to have with too much cash destabilizing things.

'South of France' is a pretty broad area, being practically an entire tribunal. Things will vary depending on starting destination.

Personally I'd break the journey down a bit and look at the options.

Unless significantly assisted with magic, a redcap isn't going to be going in anything like a straight line - even if they're being paid for a season of their time. They're going to be going via rest stops and similar that they know will accommodate them.

Getting from the covenant to the nearest mercer house is probably going to be both relatively uneventful and cheap; the redcap is going that way anyway.

From there you've realistically got the following options:

  1. Skirt the alps, which means heading north / northeast with the aim of hitting the Rhine, then heading up the Rhine to Durenmar
  2. Don't skirt the alps (or simply ignore the alps), which means heading to/near Harco.

Getting to Harco is likely to be relatively trivial. It sits right on the border of Provencal, so it's reasonable that Provencal redcaps will be stopping in there anyway. Getting from Harco to Durenmar is either pay the portal toll and a 5 minute stroll through a portal, or a brutal expedition across the alps that will only be possible at certain times of the year, and will very likely be an adventure unto itself.

Going via river is probably best done with guides that aren't redcaps, simply because waiting on 'a series of redcaps' is probably going to be brutal in terms of logistics. This will blow the journey time out into something more like years with a lot of waiting around at foreign covenants, so a better approach would be to use a redcap as far as a trade port then negotiate one's own passage from there to somewhere like Cologne to get into the Redcap catchment area of Durenmar. The slightly safer alternative would be to go the entire way with a single redcap, but this is definitely out of the redcap's way so the price is going to be far more than a few shillings; more likely a price in vis, which means you're now probably paying more than you would using the Mercere portals. Not to mention that this is a route with a lot of mundane tolls.

By far the cheapest route (in terms of redcap fees and other fees) is the Mercere Portal approach. If this isn't an option due to it being a mystery quest or similar then the redcap is quite justified in charging pretty steeply, most likely based on the wealth of the maga but potentially outside of the maga's price range if she's still young and/or poor.

Ultimately the redcap price should be determined by how significant you want the redcap's cost to be to the saga. But if it is for a mystery quest the price probably shouldn't be insignificant.

The player declined travelling by portal.

Arrangements are being made in advance; Redcaps are not constantly busy carrying every season. It's plausible to us that Redcaps could be available, for a price.

The maga asked a resident magus Mercere (my character) to arrange travel; we have other connections to House Mercere; it seems reasonable to me that a series of Redcaps might be available for two or three weeks for a fee.

The practically infant maga could make herself available for a season of work, but why would the House be interested in the feeble efforts of this inexperienced neophyte?

It doesn't have to be a cash payment, although it seems clear to me that Redcaps deal in coin; a payment on account is fine, or in bartered trade or whatever; silver can easily be an abstraction.

I have broken down the journey and route; 17 days from covenant to St. Cyprian's; so many days to Atrementem Renatus; then to Cunfin, and then to Durenmar. The player is declining to portal over for various adequate reasons and, as we are relatively wealthy in silver, and the player wants to give sufficient space for a road adventure, and as we have connections with House Mercere, it seemed that she would pay a reasonable, possibly high fee for the expert services of Redcaps, on a series of relatively short but dedicated missions.

My question was, what do people think is a basis for reasonable fee?

Considering the customary payment of three shillings for a three day visit, I suppose it should be about a shilling a week.

So the maga approached the Redcaps in a reasonable manner, left the organization and timing to them, and did not impose on them. She will accompany the Redcaps on their regular routes, where possible, and pay for the extra trips in silver - just as for an express message like, say, a declaration of Wizard's War or the delivery of a valuable book, item or being. This is all within the usual practice of the Redcaps, and should not require payment in vis.

Specific tariffs are campaign dependent, of course - and many Redcaps bargain well.


What isn't in the usual practice of redcaps, though, is travelling with another person. And worse, one with the Gift.

Travel in Mythic Europe is dangerous, and travelling with an inexperienced extra party member even more dangerous. Redcap fees for such a service should reflect the additional risk involved; the fact that they won't be able to use their normal routes, etc. unless they are the kind of redcap that does this kind of thing anyway.

At the end of the day, though, it is a troupe question. If the troupe decides that redcaps do this kind of thing, then it'll be cheap. If the troupe decides that this is exceptional rather than usual, the cost will be higher. Personally I'd lean towards the latter, but I'm not in your troupe. :slight_smile:

Note that the issue of inexperienced extras kills (or seriously injures) mountain travellers today, and that's without having to worry overmuch about bandits or monsters. 13th C. Mythic Europe is only going to be more dangerous.

As for the interest in an inexperienced maga; the answer there is 'future service.' They wouldn't be interested in an inexperienced maga, but they might well be interested in her when she's older! No reason not to cultivate the 'Favors' story flaw nice and early.

They travel with Gifted people in the course of their duties. See HoH:TL p.83 about registering a covenant.


Once again, I think the whole "Who much silver do you want?" attitude would be found to be vaguely offensive by many Redcaps. Redcaps are full members of the Order. The could vote; they abstain by choice and political opportunity. They do not deliver messages for a three shillings/visit fee; they deliver messages as a generous service to the Order, and tradition has it that a Covenant should give at least three shillings as a "token of gratitude" (which, incidentally, is the minimum that gives Redcaps enough income to live with dignity, albeit not with opulence, without seeking other sources of income) to any visiting Redcap.

I think that if the maga contacted the Redcaps, and offered silver as a "fee", she would be told that Redcaps don't do what they do for silver, but for the honour of serving the Order etc. She would also be reminded that this service has many facets that are seen by many magi as more important than baby-sitting a newly gauntleted mage, and which keep Redcaps busy, so she shouldn't take it personally if no Redcap can't help her.

Now if the maga pleaded that really, it's very important to her, and that a shilling/week was just meant as a token of gratitude to help the Redcaps defray travel expenses... I think the Redcaps would accept, but the unstated understanding would be that the maga owns them/the House a favour. Maybe it won't be collected soon, or maybe it won't be collected ever but ... if in the future House Mercere asks the maga to, say, go look for one of their own gone missing, the maga had better have a good excuse if she refuses, or she'll be considered an ingrate to be shunned. I think that only if the maga provided as "thanks" a gift worth something of the order of a season of a junior magus (possibly somewhat less - one or two pawns of vis, say, or a one-charge charged item, or maybe one or two dozen pawns of silver) would the Redcaps consider her not really in debt. Even then, if they asked for help, she should be expected to help in the future, albeit the Redcaps would feel then obliged to reward her for her effort.

And I think this "If you call upon the Redcaps, they may well call upon you in the future" view is a good thing from a Storyguide perspective, in that it offers a nice Hook for future stories.

The maga isn't doing any of that. At no point at all has the presentation "I want a guide, here's some silver, now HOP" or any variation of that been made.

It's pretty clear that Redcaps can be quite mercenary, in that they offer service for trade, and seek to make a profit. They may trade in vis, services, silver, goods, or other barter. She has silver, that's what's offered, in a perfectly respectable and respectful way. She considered offering vis, but vis is much more valuable than a few pounds of silver, so she was talked out of that idea.

I'd say offering vis will attract a better guide, or a couple. Possibly with access to items to ease the journey, or resources such as knowing a barge owner for river travel, or having a horse that is Unaffected by the Gift...

While the Redcaps like silver, they also like vis, because the use that vis to later buy things from magi, such as items, and Longevity Rituals. If it's much more valuable to magi, Redcaps already know this, and if they see a magus paying in vis, they know it's important and will give them the best level of service. And it doesn't really matter what kind of vis it is, Redcaps can trade that around to other magi who need the specific type and end up making more of it.

Redcaps likely value Vis more than any other type of Magus outside House Verditius.

For most magi Vis is the ability to cast spells more powerfully. To Redcaps Vis is the ability to cast spells at all, because it's how they can buy enchanted items.

Vis is great, of course, but the granularity of value is chunky - a pawn of vis is portrayed as worth much, much more than a mere few pounds of silver.

Redcaps peg it to about 10 pounds. I think Redcaps are mercenary, but I don't think they will generally rook another mage.

Of course, they might exchange a pawn of vis for several Redcap's services and/or several seasons of service.

Interestingly to me this makes pounds of silver the small change of vis trade.