A preference for House Mercere

Thinking about the Recaps and their relationship to House Mercere and magi of other houses today. I’m torn.

On the one hand I really like the mixed politics that come from having non-gifted redcaps as equals to magi. It adds a turbulence to the lives of wizards, which is a good potential hook. It also enables players to have a more options in the setting for companions (which is mostly how non-gifted redcaps are played).

On the other hand I dislike that what is essentially a mundane being treated as a magus. They’re not, everyone knows this, and it’s only an old in-setting tradition that keeps it so. Given the other social castes of the era I think most magi would attempt to treat them as equals in name only. A redcap is not even close to a gifted magus.

My preference is to remove the Magus status from redcap character. Sure, they can be messengers protected by House Mercere and still have all the boons, but remove the pretense. This would be an upset to the Ars Magica setting, but one which I think would streamline the setting.

Guarin, a Redcap philanderer

A sample Redcap character, Companion, for Ars Magica.


Two senior Redcaps lookout from a balcony in Harco to the covenant below. They have been reviewing the recent unassigned messengers and are down to the last of them; the troublesome ones.

“Tell you about Guarin?” shaking head and exhaling slowly.

“He should be so much more. Noble family, educated, experienced. He came very highly recommended. Charming as all get out too. One of those fellows who made good in their early career and then started to stray. With the freedoms granted to redcaps his proclivities grew unnoticed for many years, and now his habits are probably difficult for him to control. ”

“His last brief assignment was a negative promotion, intended to set him straight. We placed him in his homeland, had him working under another recently gauntleted redcap, and also closely monitored. The message was made clear – fly straight. I believe too he tried to do the right thing, at least initially. In the end he seduced the junior redcap, caused a paternity stir in the nobility, and had a second lover defend him in some affair which ended in certamen. We’re now finished cleaning up the mess, but I’m running out of patience with him. ”

Watching her face, “So he’s useless?”

Sounding a little despondent, “No, far from it. He needs a focus. A challenge. Guarin speaks of wanting more and doesn’t always intend for the indiscretions to happen; if that’s believable. ”

“If you’ll take a recommendation? Place him elsewhere. Set him apart from our core, throw the worst of it at him and see if he rises to the challenge. You sent that drunkard Jernot to the steps of Novgorod to be rid of him, and we were done with him. So give Guarin an assignment distasteful, but close enough that he can be monitored. If he rises, then we have recovered him. If he fails then he does so without affecting the wider House and Order. ”

“I don’t like using that approach often.”

“We have a need in (to be determined) where that rabble of odd-bod magi are. And I think Guarin knows one of them. ”

Laughing slightly, “why is that not surprising! Done. Send him. ”

…”now onto Franc of The Ice Steps?”

“No. Dinner. I can’t face a discussion of Franc on an empty stomach.” Continue reading