A quick question of Hermetic etiquette that was spawned in another thread: in your sagas, do Covenants provide Aegis tokens to Hermetic visitors? I'm not aware of any "canon" material on this.
In our saga, you are not expected to do it with a passerby. But not doing it with long standing aquaintances is a grave insult (tantamount to saying you do not trust them) as it is with any visitor who is supposed to stay at your place longer than three days (the standard Redcap stay). The Covenant hosting a Tribunal will always provide casting tokens to all participants, as a sign of good faith and trust; not doing so is, in fact, technically against the Oath, since it forces a magus tochoose between being deprived of his right to vote and being deprived of magical power. In many ways, it's the Hermetic equivalent of sharing bread and salt, and creates strong bonds of hospitality between the Covenant and the guest.
In one game I played, the aegis token was in the form of a dagger. THe concept of 'we are giving you a knife that you could stick in our heart' by giving the token. We gave it to most visiting mages unless we had reason to mistrust them. After all, we could always rescind the invitation without even trying hard and they were our sodalis within the order.
Usually the token came after they told us their business visiting us though.
I remember you mentioning that on these boards before Lady phoenix and always thought that was an excellent idea. I seem to remember you said something like "We trust you to be armed in our presence" about them. Very flavourful.
Our Brunnaburgh campaign saw them handed out to redcaps immediately, even non gifted ones, to invited or arranged guests and to high ranking people that we wanted to toady up to, like quaesitors. Aside from that, it was strictly on an individual basis. We had a bucnh of friendly allies who were given them when they turned up but other mages weren't so favoured as a way of encouraging them not to stay too long.
We always tend to handle tokens to magi. That includes redcaps. Other supernatural users might get a token as well, but it is not automatic. Important mundanes can also get a token since it is part of our formal welcome ritual, like the exchange of gifts. IMS they are simple Roman coins (solidus). The only few cases where the symbolism has hit is has been in a grand (read: cheesy) speech where we said we were sharing our wealth with the visitor. We could have given him a live sheep, but a solidus seemed more adequate and practical to carry around :mrgreen:
I might suggest the dagger thing to my troupe, but they are somewhat paranoid, so they will see backstabbers everywhere instead of just thieves.
How do you know that whoever you're given a token to is really a member of the order anyway?
Most sagas I have seen, tokens are given out like candy. Of course, most campaigns I have played, the pcs are such little fries, anyone who shows up is worth impressing with friendliness unless they're an enemy you need to be polite to. Or the other way around, the covenant is so high powered that they're the movers and shakers of the tribunal.
And a related question: How many tokens does each participant in the Aegis have? I'm assuming one, but the spell description doesn't say.
Which would be a possible incentive (or disincentive) to have every man, woman, child, dog, goat, sheep, and chicken in the covenant take part: the more participants you have, the more tokens you can give out.
Conversely, if only the magi participate in the ritual, that gives you on average six tokens to pass out.
I always assumed that the quantity of tokens is unrelated to the number of participants, that there was some part of the ceremony which defined the tokens. In which case, I imagine you'd have a Group of them.
With the Daggers for the one game, there was one in care of each magus of covenant with about 10 extras with whichever mage was acting as regent and local keep track of everything for the season or year maga.
In our Saga the amount of Tokens created during an Aegies ritual is independent of the number of Magi participating. In our Covenant we always discuss the manner of the ritual one week before casting it, checking that everything is as it should be. Also we discuss whether we should consider increaseing or decreasing the area of the Aegies for next year, or whether we should try to get a stronger Aegies for the next casting (that is in 1 year and 1 week). At this meeting the Magi and the Steward can make Token requests, that if granted by the other Magi is noted by the caster of the ritual. We tend to create Tokens similar to this:
2x Magus (One of which serves as a backup Token, well hidden by that particular Magus. Sometimes Tokens get lost, stolen or blow up in lab accidents)
1x Friendly, trusted creature with Might living in the Aura (Including magical beasts, faerie companions, potential familiars, magical protectors etc.)
5x Guest Tokens (Handled by the steward if he is a Magus or has sufficient Order of Hermes insight. For Redcaps, trusted guests, potential Covenant members etc.)
Thus we often create about a score of Tokens, although we are just a handful of Magi.
My opinion is that a score is about right for normal use knowing that some might get inactived and useless because someone choosed to cancel the welcome that was given.
If you are expecting tribunal, then you are looking at more like 2 or 3 score and I do not see limit to number of tokens or people who can take part in aegis (so are unaffected). This is part of why Aegis is such a breakthrough.
The only things the spell says about the tokens is that outsiders "may be brought within the Aegis, if they are formally invited by one who participated in its casting and gives a token to represent the invitation. (The tokens are used during the casting of the ritual...)"
The parenthetical part sounds almost like a throwaway piece, but if the tokens are used during the casting, that (to me) implies a practical limit on the number of tokens available. Maybe two per person involved in the ritual, or even (if you want to be more stringent) two per magus involved in the casting.
If nothing else, I would think most covenants would want to reduce the number of tokens floating about, just to make it easier to keep track of. Personally, I'm leaning toward two per person involved in the ritual, at most.
I agree this is a YSMV issue, but given that we don't really know what is involved in the casting, I don't see why the magi couldn't lug a sack full of tokens around with them as they traced the boundary.
I can imagine the magi in-character having a covenant rule about it --- like only one token each (but two for arch-magi, or whatever) --- largely for security and also internal prestige purposes. However, unless the player characters are suddenly wanting to have thousands of tokens available for some dubious trick, I don't see a practical reason for limiting the number (unless the tokens are physically massive).
Thinking back, of the sagas that had Hermetic visitors, none of the covenants gave the visitors casting tokens as a matter of course. Only in cases where they had been invited for a specific purpose which required them to not be affected by the Aegis. Of course, the sample is rather small, perhaps one or two sagas where this has come up.