Size and Shape of the Post-Schism Order

Salvete mei Sodales!

Warning, this post will be demography-heavy.

I'm presently in the (very long) planning process of a saga to be set in Mythic Britain around the year 1035 (give or take) - the last generation of Saxon England will be my starting point. Edward Confessor, the House of Godwin, the Conquering Bastard - and possibly an infamous King of Scotland - will all be there. The premise is, in essence, that the PC Magi will represent among the first of the 'generation' of magi to have begun their apprenticeships in a Post-Schism Europe. They will be striking out on their own to found a new covenant somewhere in England. (A few different locations vie in my mind, though the Wychwood looks promising for several reasons)

I've done a fair amount of research on the (mundane) setting - poured over Stenton, biographies of the prominent figures, etc - I tend towards the Extremely Researched campaign by personal inclination! - but now my mind turns to the Hermetic landscape.

My first question is, how big is the Order of Hermes about 15-20 years after the end of the Schism War?

The Gifted
To answer that question, I first examined the size of the Order in the Canonical setting. For the moment, I'm leaving aside the unGifted Redcaps


That's 1090 wizards. I decided that for my post-Schism War setting, I wanted an Order that was significantly smaller. For one thing, the Order is younger, and while it's been quite successful and expansive, it now lacks about 200 years of growth that have yielded the 1220 numbers. For another thing, this is an Order still very much in the aftermath of the twin catastrophes of the Corruption of Tytalus and the Schism War.

I settle, admittedly somewhat arbitrarily, on a number around half the 1090 figure. Maybe as many as 600 but not more. So to give me a baseline to start with, I divided the whole thing by 2:


546 wizards (rounding up).

Not bad for a start, but I've got some playing to do. I arbitrarily decide to set 555 as a hard limit on the number of Gifted Magi of Hermes, and go to work jimmying the demography.

Criamon is the first target of my pruning shears. It has always seemed very strange to me that this exceedingly esoteric House was among the larger! I drop it by a sizable portion. I trim Guernicus a little bit too: a smaller, weaker House Guernicus excuses more flagrant violations of the Code (fun!). Tytalus gets docked because this is still within living memory of the Corruption; between that and their active participation in the War, they are a depleted house. I decide not to subject Tremere to the same cut - they were on the front line of the War as well, but I figure that they probably a larger house pre-Schism. I distribute the 'stolen' members of the reduced houses around a bit and tack on a few more to bring me to 555, and this is what I get:


555 Wizards.

In 1220, there are about 150 redcaps - about 2 for every 15 Gifted wizards. In my mind, they were probably HUGE victims in the War (and also I just want a somewhat less 'connected' post-Schism Order of Hermes) so again, I jimmy the numbers, aiming for about 1 in 15, or about 36 Redcaps in the Order. Messages will get through and news will spread, but not as quickly or reliably as in the canonical setting.

What does everybody think?

In a bit, my thoughts on a geographically reconfigured Order - 13 Tribunals for 555 wizards seems a bit much, no?

I'm not entirely sure the Order should be quite as substantially smaller as you've decided to depict it, but the numbers and justifications certainly seem reasonable enough to me...

What size makes more sense to you?

My figuring was that the rate of growth was constantly accelerating, as more wizards means more apprentices means ever higher 'graduation rates'. By that logic, an order that is just over half as old as the 'canonical' one (260 years vs 450) should have at MOST half as many wizards - even without the depletion of the war.

Do you envision an Order that has a different 'growth model'? Perhaps one where apprentices are rarer (only slightly above 'replacement levels') and the biggest growth was the original "Join or Die" push? I'm not entirely sold on my model.

Here are my pure fabulation, no guarantee on historical truthiness.

Tremere should be severely cut. First, they are the most organized House and should grow faster than the others. Second, they bore the brunt of the Schism War along with the Flambeau. Well, maybe you want them to be scheming devils who somehow managed to have others die in their stead but that's another story.

Guernicus should follow a similar curve as Tremere initially, but the Order might want to stop their growth by the end of the 11th century. Ex Miscellanea suffered greatly on the Isles. Trianoma were decimated with little impact on straight Bonisagus. Some old Boni might have gone Tria.

Criamon are more numerous because they live longer (mysticism and enigmatic wisdom). Moreover, they are the least likely to take part in the fight IMHO. I don't see them as making any push for growth in the 130 years to recent times. Bjornaer and Merinita don't grow fast. Flambeau fought and survived, Tytalus had to show they were back in the fold.


total = 550

I think that the size of the order is more a question of availability...
Of gifted people.
If you go with a more or less stable population, a stable percentage of them being gifted, and a certain percent available for the order to gather, then the hermetic population would stay stable. The only real variable in that would be the percent that are hedge wizards. As the order grows, less of the available percentage would be hedge wizards, and more would be hermetic...

As a starting point, look at the various groups that survived... House Flambeau had groups that did better than other due to organization..(etc) Start by seeing how many you would think makes an acceptable 'group'. Do this for each group and then add them up...

My 'gut' feeling though would be that your numbers for Flambeau and Tremere are high, Verditius, Bjorner, and Merinita numbers are low. Remember that certain members of Diedne might have hidden in Bjorner or Merinita. Verditius did not participate in the war, and due to house workings, would probably be a little more stable.

My two pawns...

Flambeau were suppposedly "nearly whipped out" in the schism war, so I would put them smaller as well. Besides that, good run of the numbers. :slight_smile: This is a computoing exercise that I have been tol,d myself to do for a while, but never came around of actually doingf it. Thanks :slight_smile:

IMS ex miscellanea is about 4 times larger than the largest "normal" house, but that is me.:stuck_out_tongue: In the fringes of the order the ratio is even higher, up to 2:1 in loch leglean and Hibernia. There are just a lot of the buggers around IMS!


If the Flambeau were almost wiped out during the Schism, they might have use those 15-20 yeats to aggressively recriut and educate new members. It's a Sociatates, så they might integrate just about any useful hedgie with a knack for fire, or some other useful thing.

Might be :slight_smile: IIRC in the flambeau chapter of Societates mentions how some traditions in the house (like the Mercurian magi) disappeared during the schism war due to war attrition. That is a thing (the disappearance of some traditions in the war) that I find really characterful and cool.


All good points, and I do see Flambeau as a House that is in chaos at this point. Many of its wizards are either (a) Recruited Ex Misc Hedge Wizards or others lured into the House or (b) extremely young and poorly-trained wizards whose apprenticeships spanned the War. The House mourns for fallen traditions and the few 'Old Guard' wizards (less than a score of them) still left are scrambling to preserve what they can and lay a foundation for their Order's future.

On the subject of availability of Gifted people, I actually ran those numbers too. I pulled a couple estimates on the population of Europe out of books, which placed it around 42,000,000 in 1035 and around 60,000,000 in 1220. Using the statement that the Gift occurs perhaps once in 10,000 people, I calculate about 4200 Gifted persons in 1035 and about 6000 in 1220.

Ratio-wise, this means that the Order of Hermes goes from representing 1 out of about every 8 Gifted persons in 1035 to 1 out of every 5 in 1220. That seems about right to me - they are expanding their percentages, slowly, over time.

On the opposite side of Tremere and Flambeau who took heavy losses, there are Criamon and Bjornaer who more or less stayed out of things. Those houses should perhaps be disproportionately large at this point.

Point taken on the Bjornaer! They probably should be disproportionately large and in my next draft of the numbers, they will be.

Criamon will not be for this version, which is admittedly tailored specifically to my saga. As I explained earlier, I've never really liked the idea of the incredibly esoteric mystery cult being one of the large(r) of the Houses. Even when I story-guide in 1220 I've tended to houserule that they are the smallest House (aside from Gifted Mercere, that is.) One solution I've sometimes employed is to flip the Merinita and Criamon numbers - both the Faerie and the Enigma are strange and difficult concepts, but one at least puts on a quasi-human face.

YSMV, naturally, and I say this not because I dislike the Criamon (in fact, I'm rather fond of them) but because they just don't make sense to me as being that sizable.

I am having another go at the numbers when I get home from work. Thank you again everyone for your input - you've caused me to make several revisions to my model.

Think of them as being like Buddhists , you don't really notice them much
until you start asking around and find out how many there actually are.

Totally legitimate way of seeing things. It's just not how I want my Order to look in this Saga. (Not a lot of Buddhists in 11th Century Europe, ho ho ho. :wink: )

Ok, I went over the numbers again, keeping in mind the things everybody's brought up.

I see gremlin's point about a 50% cut being a little drastic. It makes sense if you see an Order that is perpetually and explosively expansive. But then I went back and thought about the sagas I've been involved in over the years. How frequently do wizards take apprentices? In theory, of course, a magus with a good longevity ritual and a solid devotion to teaching could crank out 8-12 over his Hermetic lifetime, if he was willing to only have three seasons per year of other work for his entire career. But that never happens. I think replacement level or just above replacement level (2-3 over a Hermetic lifetime) is more common, and probably partially undercut by a portion of wizards who because of early death or simple greed with their time never take one at all.

Reconsidering for a bit, I decided on a new hard limit - I did not want the percentage of European Gifted who are in the Order to drop between 1035 and 1220. This gave me a new hard limit of about 800 Gifted wizards (about 1 in 5 Gifted persons in Europe in 1035).

I used the same approach as before: I first multiplied the numbers from the HoH books by .7 to get a base (a base of 768 wizards), and then jimmied the demography and applied a rounding process, ending up with 770 Gifted Magi. (Using the same approach as before, I then calculated about 50 non-Gifted Recaps, for a total membership of about 820).

Following Tugdual, I rounded everything to the nearest multiple of 5 with the idea being that these numbers are probably imprecise - there has not been a proper 'census' of the Order since the war. This stops me short of making an absolute statement of numbers while still giving me a rough idea of the comparative size of the Houses.

Here's my table, explanations on particular Houses follow:


First up, I went ahead and did my usual switch of the Criamon and Merinita house numbers.

I took the point about the Ex Miscellanea suffering greatly, but I also figured that because of their relatively lax and diverse recruitment process, they bounced back better than anybody. Hence their numbers.

I initially cut Guernicus more than I did on the theory that having so large a police force didn't make sense, but I realized I was stereotyping and pigeon-holing the House too much and so I brought its numbers back up.

Bjornaer I inflated because of their escape from the ravages of the War. Flambeau and Tremere were cut by quite a bit - Tremere moreso because it's a True Lineage; as I've explained elsewhere I see a divide in Flambeau between Old Guard and Newer Recruits from Ex Misc, etc.

Covenants , Time Dilation or Contraction , page 08

One year local time is one-seventh of a normal year.

Approximately two years normal time to gauntlet an apprentice at standard teaching rate.
Tremere and Tytalus may have accelerated training programs in place though.

You may also want to consider the size and dominant factions in the various Tribunals. IIRC, the Order isn't quite a direct democracy, so each Tribunal gets to bring to the Grand Tribunal a few issues and as many votes as it can muster, while the heads of Houses bring in only vetoes and voting rights regardless of House sizes. This means that the agenda set by the Grand Tribunals needs not represent well the Order's precise demographics. It is likely House Criamon, for example, would go almost unheard as only its Primus would stand for its interests. The agenda of House Tremere, to the contrary, would always be brought to the table with a full Transylvanian Tribunal (as well as the Primus and perhaps some other tribunals) behind it. The political power of the different Houses is somewhat different than their brute numbers (the political power of other groups, such as Rhine gilds, and of the tribunals themselves, is also something to consider).

Covenants mentioned in Covenants are non-canonical, though. Still, glad you liked thei dea... 8)

I would point out what I perceive as a small flaw in the mathematics of the model.
Starting from current numbers and slashing them by the same factor for all, or at least most, houses is great.
But a greater reduction in the numbers of those houses that took a heavy hit during the war makes no sense in my opinion.
When you move backwards in time from 1220 to 1020 you should reduce most those houses that have grown fastest from 1020 to 1220, independently of what went on before that time.

Which houses are those? Some argument could be made in favour of the Tremere, who are so organized and whose members derive most power from bringing new recruits into the house. Also, other True Lineages probably grew slower (and thus should be proportionally higher in 1020) than Mystery Cults and Societates, because of some natural "bleeding" from True Lineages to the other Houses. Ex Miscellanea probably grew fastest of all (and thus should be slashed most heavily in 1020) because virtually all influx from outside the Order joins them.

I would also generally slash more heavily in 1020 than what was proposed - I would probably go for an Order that was less than a quarter of the current 1100 Gifted members. Otherwise, how could the Order have grown by less than a factor 2 in two centuries of peace and prosperity, if it grew by a factor 10 in two and a half centuries of turmoil and strife? Remember that an Order where each magus trains just one or two apprentices every century grows by about a factor two in that period!

My demographics of Gifted members of the Order are something like:

800: 50 magi.
900: 120 magi
1000: (just before the schism war) 260 - dropping to some 220 after the schism war
1100: 450
1200: 900
1220: 1100

Definitely possible. Your points about relative house expansion rates are totally sound.

I would submit, however, that your take on the size of the Order as a whole in 1020 vs mine vs gremlin's depends to a huge extent on a number of factors on which we have only rough guidelines (or no guidelines at all) from the books.

Consider all these factors!

  • Longevity of magi who die of natural causes / Twilight - we're told in the book that it's usually 120 years post-Gauntlet, though in my in-game experience that's a little bit of a conservative figure.
  • Percentage of magi who die early of horrible lab accidents, are slain in Wizard's Wars / Marches, become dragonfood, etc. These would have a tendency not to leave apprentices.
  • Number of apprentices the average magus teaches. Though the Code's provision for taking apprentices is not enforced by penalty, it probably exerts some social pressure towards wizards taking at LEAST one (assuming they don't die before they can, or they aren't totally selfish old bastards). On the other side of things Prima Elaine of Flambeau is commented on in Societates as having trained four, in a tone that makes it sound like that was considered a significant number. An Order which skews more towards 0-1 per magus looks MUCH different over time than one which skews toward 2-3.
  • "Hermetic" age at which wizards start to train apprentices. An Order where every wizard trains only one apprentice, but does so on average 10 years post-Gauntlet, grows much faster than one where wizards tend to train 2, but don't take their first until about 80 years post-Gauntlet.

And that's just the ones that come to me now right off the top of my head. Thinking over it, you really can justify any number you want with the right fidgeting of the numbers. As long as you sit down and give it a think, it's completely defensible to say that there are 300, 600, or even 1000 wizards in 1020.

Also, apropos of nothing and with no offense intended to any of our Swiss posters, this quote reminded me of The Third Man: