The inexorable march of progress

Having looked at the thread "Breakthroughs in the Recent Past" made me think of a question for all the game masters out there; do NPC covenants in your campaigns come up with Hermetic Breakthroughs on their own, or is it only the player characters who are changing the OoH? I can see valid reasons for both choices. For the sake of player agency, it makes sense that only the player's covenant is visibly changing the world around them. It could also be that the changes are more localized; if a covenant in Iberia has cracked the secrets of the Ablative Parma Magica, for example, the player's covenant in the Rhine might not see it until a generation or two later, long after the campaign ends.

On the other hand, the Order of Hermes communicates far faster than the mundane side of Mythic Europe even before we take the Mercurian Portals into account. Magi live a very long time also, so a "Generation" might end up being a dozen or so dice rolls in a very quiet part of a campaign. Canonically the Order of Hermes has hit a point of stagnation in 1220 AD, but if the Order refuses to move an outside party will move them, either from mundane history (the Mongol hordes) or fantastical threats (the [strike]Sea People[/strike] Amazons). Either the Order starts falling apart without player input, or it transforms into something stronger.

Great idea for a thread!

I plan to have NPC research in my game. It won't be anything especially powerful or fast: perhaps a new range/target/duration every 20 years or so, but it's enough to create a sense that the Order of Hermes exists.

Sidenote: I want to create the illusion that the Order consists of a thousand PCs, each of whom does their own PC-like shenanigans for their own reasons. This sounds like a great way to do it.

One possibility is that there may be some common breakthroughs that non-bonisagus magi make and then don't share. Or which never make it to integration. Which lets you have them for flavor without transforming the campaign.

There is (TCI p.44 box) the big research project of Ádhamh Brathair to unify Magic Theory and defenses of the Irish hedge traditions. If and when it comes to fruition, this could affect many sagas and change the position of Hedge Magic in all of Mythic Europe.


I made mention of this in the previous thread, but I like to release random minor virtues from TMRE - ie, the ones no one cares about - in the Bonisagus folios, as a way of both showing that the rest of the order exists. This also has the advantage of not changing the game too much. I mean - yeah, Hermetic Architecture isn't useful to YOUR character, but the NPC Verditus (craft focus: masonry) thinks that it's utterly FANTASTIC.

EDIT - of course, no game I'm in has ever run longer than 7 years, so this hasn't come up very often. :slight_smile: