Septs and Catuli: Can it work?

I'm rereading the section of Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults in preparation for running a Bjornaer apprentice in my saga. I'm wondering if other story-guides use Septs (p. 15 and 16), and if sow, how that would work?

The problem I have is the numbers. Canonically, there are 79 Bjornaer. A sept is magi of the same Clan who share a common Hermetic answer. If there are six Clans, that means on average each one has about 12 or 13 members. An apprentice is also trained by someone whose temperament is suited to the apprentice's heartbeast, which I've always interpreted as one whose temperament isn't diametrically opposed, but that isn't quite raw. It also says that members of the same sept tend to live in close proximity, which is widely open to interpretation.

Just looking at the numbers, it looks like there's (on average) one member of any given Clan per Tribunal, which makes it seem pretty unlikely that they would have common ancestors before Birna's filii.

Does it make sense to just scrap the Sept system entirely and perhaps just have the catuli be trained by the domina's fellow Bjornaer regardless, or have him trained solely by his domina from day one?

Or is there something that I'm missing?

Look at it the other way: there's on average 6 Bjornaer per Tribunal, low enough that all could be of the same Clan. Seen that way each Clan is in 2 Tribunals with a few random members elsewhere.

I think that is the best way to look at it: most clans are concentrated in one or two Tribunals.

Also, consider that House Bjornaer is not necessarially evenly distributed throughout Mythic Europe. Most Bjornaer might live in only one or two Tribunals. I'm guessing that there are lots of Bjornaer in the Rhine, for example.

For your saga, you just need to decide, in this particular Tribunal, is a particular Bjornaer alone or are there a lot of similar Bjornaer in the Tribunal. And if the Bjornaer is alone, is he one of only a few Bjornaer in the Tribunal or are there others, just mostly of other Clans.

Riffing on RIchard's point, here:

Also, remember that Tribunals are collections of covenants and border enforcement is spotty, at best. There is nothing that I am aware of that says that a lone Bjornear in a Transylvanian covenant can't be a member of a sept of two or three other members where those two or three reside in a Novgorad covenant, for example. "Near" can be very lossely defined.

Good point. You are right, I think, Bjornaer who live near covenant borders could be members of septs that stradle the Tribunal border.

Which is actually rather good for stories --- because then you have potential conflicts between Sept/Tribunal/Covenant loyalties.

This is something we've had problems with several times. A lone bjornaer can only get any play with his Clan or Sept of the entire Troupe is willing to help. But if everyone is from his or her own house with own ties, cults etc. then it's hard to find time and energy for it all.

Out current saga set in Rhine set off to concentrate on only a few houses. Single house did not sit well with us, dual house covenant seemed more likely. Also, it is hard to agree on only one thing! We also tried to limit the number of Gilds, but those are easier to switch than houses after all.

We ended up with primarily Flambeau and Jerbiton, 2 of each plus a Bonisagus and an Ex Misc. Gilds primarily Ash and Apple, but with Oak and Linden as well. We hope this can more easily for stories for 2 or more magi at a time, concerning their house and Gild. But we have yet to really get going with this.

I can see the difficulty if you're working with fully developed characters. Further, having not played a Bjornear regularly, I admit that I lack some perspective. That said, though, I would suggest something that worked for our troupe where we were asked by the storyguide to come up with some characters for the Gathering so the player in our group that has a Bjornear can play it through. No real scores were required -- just a personality, a haeartbeast, and a measure our maturity as a magus. He provided some motivations for us, but left it largely as is (he worked scores out for us, but they weren't neceessary and I suspect he did it just for the fun of it). Anyway, just having those things with a little extra detail may provide a nice 30-minute exercise between sessions and still provide a series of enjoyable stories for the Magister Geewouldntitbecooltobeaneagle and give the other players some good game time while not playing a mian charaacter or worrying about advancement/study/project.

Just a thought.


I'd echo what others have said -- there is not necessarily an even split of clans between tribunals.

The way that I've played it is that tribunals often share their septs; so a Bjornaer in Normandy might be part of a Rhine sept, Provencal sept, or Stonehenge sept. Given that heartbeasts can often travel swiftly, they can be quite some distance apart and still be sept-brothers. The intent of the septs is to enhance the clannish nature of the house; Bjornaer magi that live nearby tend to share a common ancestry, implying that Bjornaer magi tend to settle down near their parentes.

At the start of a saga, a sept might consist just of a player magus and his pater. As the younger magus matures, his pater might take on another apprentice. The younger magus then gets practice at teaching. When he then takes his own apprentice, his sept has three members -- himself, his pater, and his 'younger brother'. Over time there will be four members of the sept all living in the same geographic area.