The Order of Hermes: discussion

the discussion of the oath of triamore with One Shot has brought some issues on allegiance to the fore. This has 2 reasons. One that the new Order is more integraste din mundane society and two, that at least 2 of the characters have previous allegiances under their belt. This can cause conflict with the charter. Rewriting it to accomodate these looking for loopholes there seems more work than is worth.

So I bring forward 2 options 9and accept others)

  1. The setting remains as defined. The Old Order of Hermes disappeared. You are members of a new Order. Only members of the new Order have Parma, but there are a lot of other traditions and covenants around not limited by the Code, nor enjoying Parma. The Order is very loosely organized. Nobody knows what happened to the old Order.

  2. The Order of Hermes is composed of hedge traditions. There are magical traditions, but not houses. The Order of Hermes is more similar to what you read in the supplements, just that no houses exist. There are A LOT of magicians that have not joined the Order, specially because dealing with mundanes (especially nobility) is their main business. The advantage of the Order is still parma, but there are a lot of other fishes in the pond. the tribunals of the Order are still there. The ash guild of the rhine tribunal pushes to hunt down non hermetics, for example, while the apple and oak gild keeps that violent attitude in check. The apple guild wants to relax the intervention with mundanes aspect of the code in order to better compete with the non-hermetic traditions. or something like that.

Triamore will in both cases be somewhat weird in tha tit is a mixed covnenant. It accepts both casters of the OoH and non-hermetics as members. this is frowned upon by a lot of hermerics, but is not illegal per se.

What option do you prefer?

I'm still debating. I think I'm leaning toward option 2.

I can play with both options well.

Option 1 has a few obvious logical problems, which @Xavi still has to resolve:
(1.1) Who distributes the initiation scripts to Parma? How does this group organize and continue to exist? How does it take and check obligations to teach apprentices and take their Oaths as well?
(1.2) How do sodales identify each other? This is very important, because the Oath of Hermes obliges them to each other (wrt loyalty, Wizard's War, respect of Tribunals, mutual protection, no scrying etc.).

Option 2 does actually take less work to implement.
I would, however, do away with the gilds. Their purpose in GotF was, to integrate the lesser sodales with fewer votes in Tribunal and give them something to do, while still keeping them out of the hair of those calling the shots. In a smaller and less rigid order of hedgies, they are just superfluous.

I do in any case recommend, to still ask the players whether their main characters really see a reason, not to swear the Oath of Hermes. First and foremost it protects them from their older sodales, both within and without their Covenant and Tribunal!

OI thought it was pretty explicit and clear that Parma is self enforcing. What happens exactly if you break what you swear is not clear (becaus eit might be different depending on the case) but it might mean that you lose your parma, you lose part of it (drop a few levels, becomes restricted or weak parma...) or you get too much of it (a restriction to your magic imposed by your own MR that blocks you access to magic. Or something else.

In any case access to parma is not very restricted. There are quite a few initiation scripts around. Who created them after a peirod of parma-less Europe is a mystery (that could be solved if the PC were interested). But since initiation means swearing the code, it is not something done lightly.

identification of sodales is something I had not considered, but seems rather easy. Forceless casting for one, wearing a mark like the serpent triangle you find in the Ars products) and registering your covenant with the redcaps and displaying clear symbols in it.

Initiations require a decent (TMRE p.13ff) (Mystery Cult) Lore - in our case likely Order of Hermes Lore - to administer. So who would be the mystagogues for these scripts? Where would they have learned their Order of Hermes Lore? Whom would a prospective sodalis address?

Forceless casting requires, that a sodalis can cast something appropriate, and works only on those she can cast it on. Both are not trivial for hedgies, and might be verrry cumbersome. As she swore e. g. "I will not molest the faeries, lest their vengeance catch my sodales also", she better knows whether some of the people on the other side of the hills are sodales too. So this is not trivial - especially if the Oath of Hermes is somehow self-inforcing.

EDIT: To be clear: sorting all this out is not at all impossible, but it requires thinking about it for an hour or two and writing it up - especially if there are some big bozos behind the initiation scripts and the self-enforcing Oath.

As an example of the complexity in finding out your sodales, look at this: Sulpice could not know, whether eventual sodales had their Parmae up. He could only scry on them with his 5th ring (RoP:TD p.100), which has no real casting roll and no provision for forceless casting. So he asked a shibboleth-type question and was promptly misled by Yannis, who knew the Oath of Hermes without having taken it.

That can be changed easily enough. Parma can have a glitch that makes it flicker or something if you do a certain gesture with your hand. Or you can simply ask if the other guy is a follower of the orde rof Hermes. The problems you are putting forward do not seem very different to what the canonical Order of Hermes has to deal with. Everybody needs to be careful before they scry. In this hedgie setting and in the normal setting. You can use magic or mundane methods to ensure that you are not scrying on a magus. Not a change here.

The other parameters might have already been taken care of. That your character or player is unaware of them is another matter :wink: , For story reasons I want some stuff not to be revealed right away, because it makes things more mystical and because I want some of these issues to remain secret in order to be a story hook if the players want to investigate it.

This will be the case regardless of you choosing option 1 or 2.

I don't want to hold my vote back too long, not to smother decision making.

So I vote for 2: the Oath of Hermes appears to me made for application by sodales, and I do not yet see how it can be made self-enforcing without con- and dis-tortions.

Ok. Callen and OneShot vote for 2. Let's see what the others think (MalakhGlitch is I'll, so might take a while to answer) but it seems that with 50% voting 2 it will be the chosen option. I will rephrase the description of the Order and the magical landscape to take that into account.

Either is fine with me.

Ok. Option 2. let's see what you think.

In the Carolingian period, there was a magical conclave of wizards in the Black Forest that founded what was to be called the Order of Hermes. The disparate traditions were brought together by Bonisagus (a wards expert) by the invention of the Parma Magica and the derivative Aegis of the Heath by his descendant Notatus.

This Order has spread far and wide and, using the advantage that the Parma Magica gives its members, has come to dominate the magical landscape of Europe. The Order of Hermes has been able to carve a niche in medieval society, being both removed and integrated into the human landscape of Europe. Nowadays some magi estimate that about 1 in 3 Gifted casters in Mythic Europe is a member of the order of Hermes.

In general the OoH is weaker than in the official setting, composed of hedge traditions and much more integrated in mundane society.

The Parma Magica is a supernatural ability that requires an initiation. The swearing of a code of conduct Is central in the initiation, along with contact with powerful magical forces. This Code of Hermes is what gives the order its name. The Parma Magica supresses the inherent distrust that the Gift creates and has allowed magical practitioners to interact between them without (much) fear of retaliation or their own Gifts affecting their impression of other magicians. The parma magica comes in a 3-tier system, with the most powerful levels being reserved to archmagi. Access to the higher levels of Parma Magica is not automatic, but requires strong commitment of the magus.

While Parma Magica seems to have some inbuilt control mechanisms for flagrant breaches of the code (that can cause Parma to act weird or stop working altogether for the offender), minor breaches or questionable acts are monitored by Quesitors. Quesitors tend to belong to magical traditions with strong capabilities in divination, perception and other mundane and supernatural investigative skills.

Magi (as the members of the order are known) tend to live in covenants, or in spread covens covering a small region. Most covenants of the Order of Hermes are small and composed of single traditions or a few at most. Sharing resources on your own tradition (specially initiation scripts) and study sources is the main reason for this, since most magi of the order of Hermes have incompatible approaches to magic practice.

Covenants tend to have a large mystical footprint, and tend to be noticed by other supernatural users. In a lot of cases they reach local agreements, but not always, and conflict between magi and other casters over resources is common. The magi do not always come up on top.

The covenants of the Order tend to be that, Covenants of magi, members of the Order of Hermes. Triamore is a somewhat special covenant in that it accepts members that are not members of the Order, and shares knowledge with them. This is frowned upon by most magi, but it does not break the Code and so has been discussed and accepted at tribunal, even if just barely. It is also peculiar in that it is composed of a number of disparate traditions. Its ad hoc formation from diverse court wizards of the Barbarossa imperial court has had this effect, specially when it was placed in a location where folk witches already operated.

Triamore also administers a large library that it is its pride. Its origin is the book gifts given to the imperial court. A copy (or the original) is always sent to Triamore, so every few years a few books arrive from the Imperial court and are added to the library. In exchange the Triamore library needs to be open to any scholar that requests access and pays the fee.

Bois de Haillot, the manor where Triamore is located is an imperial immediacy. This places it under the direct suzerainty of the Holy Roman Emperor. Its charter does not put any obligations on them except the care of the imperial library at the castle of Lucien’s Folly, that needs to be accessible to scholars, and the inability to crenelate the unfinished castle. It also grants the count of Namur right to the agricultural taxes that were in place at the time of the manor becoming an imperial immediacy. Formally the princeps of Triamore holds the manor for the emperor, and the magi of Triamore are his or her knights. The princeps of Triamore must be a member of the Order of Hermes, but the knights do not need to be necessarily.

I don't have the time right now to study the post in detail. Perhaps tomorrow morning! But making the Parma a Supernatural Ability has it contribute to blocking new Supernatural Abilities in ArM5 p.166. Intended?

Nope. That would be me making the wrong assumption without checking the book.

So, no more "The old OoH was destroyed and a new OoH made up of hedge traditions replaced it"? We are now living with "An OoH founded by an assemblage of hedge traditions that never integrated under a unified magic theory, just Parma Magica and the Aegis of the Hearth."

Just want to make sure so that I can adjust my character's background accordingly.

Yes, that is the case. It is way less work doing this and I already have a lot of stuff in my plate. Tribunals are less influential, you need to reach agreement with local hedgies that are not members of the order (as they have your same firepower eve if less defence, but they can mess.with mundanes freely), and covenants tend to be way less powerful.

Bonisagus is a dead lineage, but Durenmar retains primacy by the agreement of magi to send there their traditions initiation scripts.

This also means that Redcaps do not get many magic items for their services, since most magi do not make items at all, but they can get some advantages none the less.

In your area, there is a faction that calls for reinforcing the join or die policy (your old ash guild), but traditionalists (oak) and a faction that wants more integration with other hedgies (apple) tend to keep them in check. Triamore is one of the leading voices for the integration faction.

I reckon, that this means "books acquired by the Stauffian Emperor". The court of the Emperor is not really an institution to make gifts to: it is ephemeral and volatile in its composition, unless you wish to use the administrative body of the Sicilian kingdom as a court (which requires that the library is in Sicily and likely in Palermo). And you can not really distinguish between gifts to the Emperor and his other acquisitions.

Should we continue modifying the Charter of the Covenant of Triamore (Triamore p.34f box) now?

Go ahead