Well, this is the supplement where I had the opportunity to present my influence on Redcap culture for better or for worse, but unlike other Tribunal Books (except perhaps Against the Dark) this also book addresses the role of Gifted Mercere in the culture of House Mercere.Erik was responsible for the high Mercurian concepts of Aedes Mercuriae and the Gifted Mercere archmagus Ophilo, whereas Ben developed Guillermo, the Herculean Hero Cultist of Ara Maxima Nova. There was originally a third Gifted Mercere character, the Islamic merchant magu Saggitus of the Coenobium but we felt three detailed Mercere magi in one book was too many given the small number in canon.
My approach to Redcaps was to take the line that in a fractured and factional Tribunal with an effectively impotent Quaesitorial presence, the Redcaps could be the manifestation of Hermetic order and have political power equivalent to that wielded by Hermetic magi in other Tribunals. What I asked, would happen if the Redcaps not only maintained the Mercer House and ensured communication between covenants but also controlled by proxy one of the most powerful covenants and voting blocks of the region?
The most public manifestation of this is that Alazais, the Chief Redcap is also the First Consul of the Coenobium and therefore in a strong position to be able to influence the votes of up to two to three dozen magi (reliably the almost two dozen members of the covenant plus the opportunity to cajole and bribe about half as many invited “guests”). She does this through diplomacy, guile and demonstrated ability rather than through display of magical prowess or Hermetic prestige. This has earnt her the reliable support of Bellaquin, Castra Solis and Stella Durus against Aedes Mercuriae which translates into an effective voting block given the disarray and disinterest of the other covenants.
The policy of drawing on non-Hermetic magic to support Redcaps and the strategy of recruiting hedge magicians in the ranks of Redcaps as a subtle way of establishing some independence from the Gifted magi of House Mercere. This is only implicit and subtle in the final product as the more explicit detail of the allied hedge magicians of the Coenobium was cut for space reasons and because of the recent example of the Coill Tri of Hibernia presenting a more integrated role for hedge wizards in Hermetic culture. It’s something I’ve always wanted to explore and partly developed further in my “Training Packages for Redcaps” article with the older version of Cymena. Upon reflection, the extended definition of Redcaps in Transylvania would be interesting to explore in the context of the Coenobium but we’d pitched Provencal as the “vanilla Tribunal” so I didn’t want to explore anything too left-field in the official product.
The adoption of Mythic Companions as Redcaps as a means of surreptitiously introducing “unGifted magi” into the Order of Hermes. The original idea for this concept derives from Timothy’s extension of the “Larta Magi” of House Jerbiton and a somewhat elusive concept presented in House of Hermes: True Lineages by Erik that allows for the adoption of exceptional individuals into House Mercere. Argentius (designed as a Mythic Companion but ultimately left undetailed in the final product) is the sole remnant example of this somewhat heretical concept, which was diluted during the playtesting process.
I was really trying to stretch some concepts here intentionally, while remaining true to the key aspects of Hermetic culture presented in the ArM5 corebook. I’m not sure if I achieved this necessarily, but hopefully some of the elements I introduced are provocative enough to influence Sagas in a new and positive way.