What Resources/Power Would a Group Need to Destroy Order?

Just speaking theoretically, based on a combination of the canonical strength of the Order and your best guesses as to the Order's own limitations and strengths.

This could be any group, but they need to have real power backing them up. Magic Resistance is practically paramount if they are to put up any kind of struggle, given that if a purely mundane group had that kind of power the Code would probably be ignored in favor of preventing the Order's utter destruction (though how mundanes would get that power without the help of another Realm is beyond me).

I suppose a good starting place is to look at the Church. The Order knows that the Church could defeat the Order of Hermes if they went to war, due to the potentially limitless power of God, the powers available to God's servants in the form of Invocation Wonders and other abilities as presented in RoP:D, the great wealth and numbers of churchmen, and the practically guaranteed intervention of a very large number of very powerful Divine creatures on the side of the non-Magi. Of course, that is a bit abstract; God's limitless (as far as anyone can ascertain, at any rate) power, combined with the wide variance of power available to Divine creatures, means that the example of the Church being able to defeat the Order doesn't really provide any useful information on just how much power the Order of Hermes can stand up to.

There are the Rival Magic groups; I've only read the Introduction of that book so far, but presumably, unlike a conglomeration of Gifted Hedge Wizards, if one of those groups got the Parma Magica or an equivalent and enough time to adapt for the social evolution it would bring, they could be roughly equal in power to the Order of Hermes. I'm pretty sure that's the whole point of the divide between that book and Hedge Magic Revised Edition, after all.

Or maybe they couldn't. I mean, having equivalent magical strength might not be enough by itself to match up to the wealth, pre-establishment, versatility, and existence of hundreds of years of developmental knowledge of the Order of Hermes, never mind its relative size compared to other groups.

This question applies to large groups of Supernatural creatures, too, of course. It would take an extremely large amount of power for a single creature to be able to trade blows with the entire Order, as even individual old Magi are extremely powerful, and against a singular opponent that could otherwise destroy the entire Order, the oldest and most powerful Magi are certain to come together and devise an extremely powerful group ritual that could penetrate nearly any amount of Might-based Magic Resistance and have an appropriately powerful effect to stop a creature of nearly any level of power. And that's just trading magic blows; the Order can raise mundane armies and utilize powerful mundane tactics, divert other powerful supernatural creatures against the invader, and would have extreme financial and evasive resilience against being beaten down faster than they can recover, given that they can scatter, teleport, hide their presence, and still keep in fairly good contact with one another while hiding their presence and teleporting and actually physically hiding themselves simultaneously.

It's more feasible with a larger group of less powerful creatures, but then it raises questions. What kind of resources to they need? Food, perhaps wealth of their own, things they need to sustain their own existence in the case of Faeries, resistance against re-banishment to Hell in the case of Infernals? How much raw power of their own might they need? Might, ability versatility? I mean, sure, a large group of Might 30 Faeries marching around breathing storms of ice might leave Spring covenants filled with younger Magi utterly helpless, but any organized resistance on the part of middle-aged Magi or even specialized defensive measures employed against their primary method of attack on the part of those younger Magi could leave them struggling to cause damage; a passing glance by the oldest and most powerful Magi would leave them either destroyed or completely obsolete.

So, yeah. Obviously, the entire strength of the Order may vary from saga to saga, but there are also a large number of assumptions set by the rulebooks, that they follow when giving examples and describing the Order's interaction with things. All strategies are viable, as long as they are relatively secure; whether it takes 50 seconds, 50 days, or 50 years, as long as it effectively defeats, debases, and eradicates the Order of Hermes, though again, it doesn't qualify if the Order can feasibly continue to recover faster than it is brought down for an indefinite length of time, or if it is such a flimsy method of attack that a single Major or lesser Breakthrough in Hermetic theory or a single clever political maneuver would be enough to easily remove the problem. Following the generally assumed power, political influence, and wealth capacity of the Order (or the closest estimate you can make based on your own interpretations of things) in the year 1220, what kinds of resources and power are needed for a creature or group to stand a reasonable chance of defeating and destroying the entire Order of Hermes? What do you guys think?

There's some suggestion that the Order exists because or rites performed at the Fane of the Founders (Guardians of the Forest), though the Order may have matured to the point where that spiritual assistance isn't necessary anymore.

Depends on how you destroy the Order.

If you destroy it through sowing corruption or discord, for example, or by convincing the Church to launch a Crusade, little to no magical power is needed.

There was a post I read once about a Volkhvy (hedge magic) Giving his whole village Ceremony, then doing a huge ceremony that targets the entire Order with huge peneteration. Instakill.

Other than that, I'd suggest a coordinated effort by the Muspelli can work if there are enough of them and their patrons strategizing the war well.

I can also see demons corrupting Hermetic magic and setting wizards against each other until the Order basically kills itself.

grin Yes, when it comes to big power in this game, Ceremony and its siblings ftw. Of course, I had big problems with Bear&Dragon mechanics from the beginning (I enjoyed a lot of the fluff though), and it's not even fifth edition

I was going to suggest Ceremony as well. It can get really gross in the right (wrong?) hands.

The Curse of Thoth, pre-hermetic as it is, is also a perfect weapon against the OoH. Suddenly everyone is twilight prone with oodles of extra botch dice... and you only need to capture a single hermetic mage to cast it on the whole Order.

And anyone with the gift can learn it. Getting the people to work together for a season to cast it might be slightly harder without the Parma however.

It kind of depends on how magic works. For example, House Criamon have been claiming for a very long time that the axis of the magical fields of the world runs through The Cave of Twisting Shadows and that they are building a sort of messiah there. What happens when the axis is complete? Things change. From the Criamon perspective, the Order exists to give them the time they need to get their work done. The Order is useful, but not sacred.

Also, it depends on what you think the point of the Order is. House Tremere, for example, defend the Order because it's the best currently-available system to prevent a thousand people, with poor social skills from selling their souls to demons for the power to smite each other. You know, like back in the old days. If someone comes up with a better system than Hermetic Feudalism, then the Order might cease to exist. Indeed, you could argue that in Transylvania, it already has ceased to exist for any practical purpose, replaced by something that looks a lot like a nation-state, that uses the Order basically for foreign relations.

To destroy the Order you don't actually need a lot of power, because the Order exists only because it's the compromise model between the various ideologies.

That was my post, and my saga.
First game session of the saga, in fact, when we were trying to pull together the various characters founding a new covenant somewhere in the eastern Rhine or Novgorod. One of the companions was a young Volkov (basically a pagan priest). Note that it takes just 6 Virtue points to have the full complement of the supernatural Virtues of a Volkov. The PC also had something like Temporal Influence or Priest or Wise One, basically having the social influence that came from being the spiritual authority of a smallish village (maybe 50 souls?). He also had Self-confident and a few Sympathy-related Virtues and Flaws.

The idea was to roleplay the initial frictions between the newly gauntleted magi coming from the west, and the local pagans - frictions that would eventually turn into mutual respect and a common goal of defending the local faerie and magic landscape against the encroachment of the Divine. Well, the frictions turned out to be a little harsher then expected. One of the magi blatantly despoiled the shrine of the Volkov's god, raiding it for vis. The Volkov decided he'd retaliate, and for some reason I cannot quite remember decided he'd retaliate against the entire Order of Hermes (I seem to recall he had come to perceive the Order as a religious cult affiliated to an evil foreign god). I am not 100% sure of the details any longer, but this is what I seem to recall happened.

The player of the Volkov looked at the RoP:F book and tried to see what he could pull off. Basically, using ceremonial influence, the PC granted himself sympathy traits that would allow him to affect the entire Order of Hermes. I think one was a "Hate for the Order" and another something like "Revenge for the desecration", though I can't quite remember. Then, using Grant, he granted Ceremony to a selected few of his fellow villagers, and with their help he granted Ceremony, as well as the appropriate Sympathy traits, to the entire village. The villagers obviously were almost as outraged as the Volkov and quite happy to collaborate. Finally, all together they cast a massive Conjure Rite with R:Symbol and T:Symbol (and some extended duration, at least a Year; probably Hidden, with the Volkov wearing a costume of the wrathful aspect of his god) that turned the entire population of the Order into some kind of vermin. I think they managed a penetration well in excess of 100, possibly as high as 200. Some 40-50 villagers, each with Ceremony 1 and 6 points of sympathy traits, can really produce a massive penetration even if you use a level 15 guideline (turn humans into something of size -15, snails or worms or something like that) with R:Symbol (+4), D:Year or Hidden (+4) and T:Symbol (+4) with a really generous size modifier (+6 or so, "just to make sure").

As the PC was doing this, the entire troupe was mesmerized. We realized it could just totally break the saga, but you know those situations where you are like too slack-jawed to act? And we really wondered whether it could be pulled off by the RAW. We checked meticulously. And yes, by the RAW it worked; that's the power of Ceremony for you - and after all, the Volkhvy are famous for their massive rites, so it made sense within the story. Basically, virtually the entire Order was turned into vermin, most to be eaten, squashed or otherwise killed by natural dangers within the next few weeks (even a senior Bjornaer has a lot of difficulty resisting a 21st magnitude effect with his Heartbeast).

That was the starting point of our new saga: PCs were senior apprentices, left as the sole heirs of the Order (after all, an apprentice is not part of the Order yet!). Exploring abandoned covenants (abandoned by the magi, at least), trying to rediscover the Parma magica (while fighting off the negative social effects of the Gift), dodging the occasional renegade (magi cast out of the Order did not get hit by the curse!), the entire saga was about trying to find a way to break the Curse (which meant finding the cause of the Curse in the first place!). It was a lot of fun, and I don't regret a single instant allowing the Volkov to fire off his curse.

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Cool. I don't see why the Sympathy traits were so useful, though.

The greatest threat to the Order is the Order itself. Civil war would do it; any enemy need only manipulate the Order into destroying itself.

For external threats: Vast Power, enough to wreck Europe. Magi can lay waste to whole countries - let me rephrase - One powerful mage can lay waste to countries under the right circumstances. Not all at once, generally, but it could be done. It's not a particularly high level ritual to reduce a castle to sand. A Flambeau can set the whole of a city ablaze, no ritual required. Mentem could send an army mad; Muto can turn a port's water to glass. House Tremere, House Mercere, House Bonisagus, and House Flambeau would close ranks and present an incredible force. I imagine House Verditius has arsenals of magic weapons and devices. Most of the other Houses would likely unite in support, if not always practical contribution.

The united Church and crowns of Europe could do it, possibly, but there might not be much left, barring the direct intervention of God. They would have to move quickly, and I have no idea how the Order would not be alerted in time to raise defenses or possibly simply move beyond mortal grasp. God's direct action would crush the Order, but that seems a dull story.

Leaving out the greatest cosmic forces, though: The great dragons could destroy the Order, I suspect, acting together. The same is true of the great giants.

So,too, the marshaled armies of Faerie or hordes of Hell could destroy the Order although in both cases the first challenge is getting them stampeding in one direction. In either case, what would it benefit them?

Less continuum-wrecking threats might include a concerted effort by an energetic Caliphate, backed by the full might of an actual Council of Suliman. Then, too, I am somewhat persuaded by the argument that the Mongols, with disciplined shamanic backing, could be a serious threat.

I think you could, essentially, "starve" them into destruction, or at least to the point where they degenerate to a manageable level. Powerful wizards may be able to save their covenants, and I suppose with sufficient warning the Order could gather all the Magi and a large number of covenfolk into a Boundary and move the whole group (or even the whole location) out of reach of most types of forces... But the place they retreated to would need to be able to provide for all the Order's needs (food, production of tools and clothes) and most likely would lose access to all that Hermetic knowledge contained in books and vis back home that wasn't in their current location's library/store. I suppose it might not even be a great loss in the book category if the place ported was, say, Durenmar, but a lack of access to vis and the population's supply of Gifted children would result in the older magi dying off and each generation getting progressively weaker and smaller in knowledge and power. Plus, that many Magi cramped into one place right at the start would probably cause an outbreak of conflict in and of itself.

Make Europe inhospitable and get them scared of becoming traceable, and the Order doesn't last as long as you'd think.

To that end, just the Church's threat of force could cause the chain of events that results in the Order's fall.

First of all, the total absolute value of all your applicable sympathy traits is the maximum magnitude of your rite.
The Volkov in question could only pull of a 20ish magnitude effect because it had a bunch of (positive and negative) sympathy traits that applied, including one with vermin. In general, the requirement of Sympathy is one of the big limiters of the otherwise very powerful, very accessible Faerie magic.

Second, R:Symbol and T:Symbol require Sympathy applicable to the target. That's one of the reasons the Volkov went out of the way to create ceremonial sympathy with the Order.

Third, once you have positive sympathy, Grant it to your Ceremony collaborators and it gives a big bonus.

This all applies to the character through whom the ritual is focused, though, right? Not so necessary with other types (Infernal, Divine).

This is the part I don't follow at all. Sympathy Traits apply to non-Supernatural Abilities (replacing specialties), which rules out Supernatural Abilities, Arts, and Characteristics. How is that big bonus coming about?

Uhm, then I probably remember incorrectly, and instead of granting those Sympathies, the Volkov granted Puissant Ceremony, Evocation and Puissant Evocation?

I distinctly remember that a) we really checked the whole thing meticolously and b) the final penetration was well in excess of 100, so much in fact that we decided that essentially no extant parma managed to withstand it.

I assume there were a lot of really angry of Bjornaer who shapeshifted back and essentially ran the Order.

I'm sure a few Bjornaer did that. On the other hand, as he mentioned when writing the post, the Ease Factor for transforming back with the Heartbeast skill would've been 21... A rather hefty number to aim for on an Ability check. Certainly within the realm of possibility, but...

How cohesively is the Order supposed to be able to work, anyway? I have few books so I don't really know the implications there... But are we even sure most of the older Magi would care enough about the Order's continued existence to intervene?

I think it was mentioned the last time this came up but aren't some Bjornaer are also partially immune to sympathetic magic.

Any sorta destroy the order concept does create the open question of what will survive.

Magi in temporary twilight.

The Cave of shadows

The great Libraries and magic items.

Magically well equipped covenfolk and companions.

Sta+Heartbeast stress roll of 24+ (i.e. 3+magnitude) would have been necessary.
We eyeballed 3 or 4 Bjornaer made it.

Plus a handful of magi who, despite being turned into vermin, could communicate through Mentem magics with their familiars or loyal covenfolk to keep them safe, an elder Criamon who was on the last station of a particular Path offering him total control of his body, a young, talented ex-miscellanea shapeshifter who had an Immunity to shapeshifting from outside sources, a Holy magus on a holy quest who was saved by a miracle... Altogether, about a dozen magi, scattered all over Mythic Europe.

Versus about 150 apprentices.

We debated a bit about whether T/R:Symbol involved sympathetic magic, or it was just the name "sympathy" that recurred. Ultimately, we decided that by a strict reading of Faerie rites, you need no sympathetic connections to make them work (Faerie sympathies are not sympathetic connections), so the Secret Name minor Bjornaer mystery provides no protection.