In my original thread https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/the-history-of-the-order-is-a-lie-what-is-the/8416/1 , I asked:
And got one answer that has really been rattling around in my head below that I want to use specifically for my game since it is currently in 801AD, not 1220:
So. Suppose that the Order of Hermes is fact built not on the ruins of the Cult of Mercury, but in fact built on the pillars of smaller magical orders that were more specialized and likely did not have a fully unified theory of magic, but did have Parma Magica, but a weaker, less improved version... For some reason this is concealed from the Order. It isn't just mere ego - why would the Order whitewash it's actual history?
I have an idea.
I'll go with the concept of a Cult of Mercury in the Roman Empire, but also Cults of Jupiter, Mars, Venus, etc each with their own specialized area of magic. Perhaps the Cult of Mercury was the largest. We can go with the roman equivalent of the 12 Olympian gods, maybe with a couple other major Roman gods included. All with some level of feuding with each other over various types of resources, but cohesive, perhaps exclusive to certain regions and existed with state support directly by the Emperor.
But the Romans weren't the only ones to have state magi. The Parthians (247 BC–224 AD) and their successor empire Sasanians ( 224 - 651 AD) had their own magi too.
The Christianizing of the roman world in the 300s and 400s combined with the fall of the Western Empire in the 400s did cause problems for the Cults - in the Western Empire. (Personally, I think the original writers of Ars Magica, ReinHagen and Tweet, had a poor understanding of Roman history and thought that the entire empire "fell" when in fact the better populated Eastern Empire endured for another 1000 years.) The eastern emperors realized how useful the Cults were, and to avoid theological problems, had them secularize, become christian holy magi, or, go underground as reclusive "monasteries". In fact, a whole order of Christian Magi serving the Emperor and Empire was created.
Then there were the apocalytpic wars with the Sasanians. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine% ... 2%80%93628
In the final war, Heraclius, didn't just melt all the church silver and gold plate for mundane armies, he made as many wild and outlandish, but believable promises as possible to the existing cults within the Empire, and in the former Empire. The final war in 602-628 saw the near annihilation of every single surviving in Cult in Europe and any other "Order" of magi.
The Order of Hermes was built on the very few survivors and scattered remnants of other traditions of the final war. It also explains the reticience of the magi at the time of the founding to get involved in the affairs of state. For me, it also gives a good story foil - the subject of the "role" of the Order is a big theme in my current game.
Any other ideas, suggestions, sinister plots/ideas etc?