Project: Redcap; the crossroads of the Order



From Project: Redcap

Hermetic Magi learn their magic through apprenticeship. An apprentice lives with his or her master in the master's covenant and works as a servant and laboratory assistant. The apprentice may also accompany his or her master on adventures, or perform errands on his or her master's behalf. In exchange for his or her service, the apprentice receives tutelage in the Hermetic Arts and important Abilities. After fifteen years of apprenticeship, an apprentice can become a magus.

Training an Apprentice[edit]

Many players enjoy role-playing the process of training an apprentice, either from the point of view of playing the master, or playing the apprentice. In some troupes, both the master and the apprentice are player characters.

ArM5 has the most detailed rules to date for training an apprentice or playing one as a character. In earlier editions, the rules don't cover most of the training process and players have to make more ad hoc decisions; also, an apprentice trained using earlier editions of the rules is less likely to resemble a starting magus character at the end of apprenticeship.

The sourcebook Apprentices further elaborates on the rules for training an apprentice, to cover how an apprentice can acquire Virtues and Flaws through apprenticeship, and to give advice on how to efficiently train an apprentice for maximum benefit to both master and pupil.

Requirements to Teach an Apprentice[edit]

Any magus is entitled to have an apprentice, but tradition and/or the Peripheral Code establish some requirements for a magus to be considered a competent teacher. A score of 5 in each Art is considered the minimal standard. In ArM5, it is possible (but not advisable) to train an apprentice even if one has a score less than 5 in one or more Arts. The consequences of doing so are discussed briefly on page 53 of ArM5.

In addition to the Arts, the master should know Latin and be able to read and write. Some skill in the Teaching Ability will help the apprentice learn more effectively. In ArM5, it's also important to have a Parma Magica score high enough to share one's Parma with the apprentice, or else the social effects of the master's Gift will be an impediment to learning (ArM5, page 106)

Finding an Apprentice[edit]

Finding an apprentice is not easy and may require a search of many seasons. Only individuals with The Gift are qualified to be apprentices and eventually magi, and The Gift is rare.

Young people with The Gift often stand out from the rest of medieval society. Unless they have the Gentle Gift, they will be widely disliked and possibly outcast at a young age. Before being shaped by magical training, The Gift may manifest itself as uncontrollable, minor magical effects or naturally-occurring Supernatural Abilities. Following tales of children or youths with strange powers can often lead to a suitable apprentice.

The search for an apprentice can be role-played, but if this is not desirable, a rule for finding an apprentice by spending seasons and rolling dice may be found on page 106 of ArM5.

Responsibilities of the Master[edit]

The master is required to provide at least one season of training every year for 15 consecutive years. This may seem like a heavy burden, and in the early years of apprenticeship (when the apprentice is unskilled and a minimal help in the lab), it can be. Later, when the apprentice is more proficient in Magic Theory, the investment seems more worthwhile.

In addition to the Arts, apprentices must be taught to speak Latin (or perhaps another arcane language) and to read and write (in ArM5, this means at least one rank in Artes Liberales). It is also a good idea to teach them Magic Theory so they can be useful assistants in the Laboratory. Early in apprenticeship, an apprentice needs a lot of training.

The master must personally instruct the apprentice. It's not enough to simply hand the apprentice a book. The master may use either Training or Teaching to instruct the apprentice.

During the seasons where no instruction takes place, the apprentice usually learns Arts or Abilities by Exposure.

The Start of Apprenticeship[edit]

In ArM5, apprenticeship officially starts when a magus beings teaching the Arts. Before this time, the prospective magus does not belong to anyone and could be claimed by another magus. (A dispute over a prospective apprentice would most likely by resolved by Certamen or by a legal motion at Tribunal).

An apprentice should at least be old enough to learn to read and write. In medieval society, children weren't considered capable of reasoning and proper learning until about the age of seven. In many cases, The Gift doesn't become apparent until the onset of puberty, so many apprentices begin their training as adolescents. It is possible to even begin training a Gifted adult as an apprentice, though this may be difficult if the adult has already learned some Supernatural Abilities.

Earlier editions of the game did not make clear when, from a legal standpoint, a prospective apprentice became an actual apprentice.

Apprentices with Supernatural Abilities[edit]

Non-Hermetic Supernatural Abilities are generally incompatible with Hermetic training, and make it harder to teach the Arts. This is one of the reasons magi often prefer to start their apprentices as young as possible: a character with The Gift, but no formal training, might have picked up one or more Supernatual Abilities already and be harder to train in Hermetic magic.

If the apprentice already has scores in any Supernatural Abilities, the master must exceed a certain Lab Total to open the apprentice's Arts (ArM5 page 107).

Opening the Arts[edit]

In ArM5, the basics of all fifteen Arts are taught in one season, early in apprenticeship. This is called "opening the Arts." See ArM5, the last paragraph on page 106.

Once the Arts have been opened, the master can spend subsequent seasons teaching one Art at time to improve the apprentice's score. This process uses the normal Teaching rules.

Teaching Abilities[edit]

Abilities are taught using the normal Teaching rules. Additionally, the apprentice will pick up Experience Points in some Abilities through Exposure. There is no strict rule saying what Abilities must be taught to an apprentice, but there are conventions:

Latin:An apprentice who doesn't know Latin will be at a disadvantage; he will be unable to study most of the Books and Lab Texts of the Order, and may have trouble communicating with his or her master. In some Trinbuals (and some Sagas), other languages such as Greek may take the place of Latin. Whatever language is used for magic, it is almost always taught as early in apprenticeship as possible, perhaps even before apprenticeship begins.
Artes Liberales:Artes Liberales is necessary for the apprentice to be able to read and write. There is no rule that a magus must be able to read and write, but an illiterate one would be unable to study from Books or to use Lab Texts -- a severe handicap to the magus's career. Most magi teach literacy early, so the apprentice can study independently if he or she finds the time.
Magic Theory:It's in the master's best interest to teach Magic Theory as early as possible, since the apprentice's Magic Theory score adds to the master's Lab Total whenever the apprentice serves as an assistant.
Parma Magica:Magi can teach the Parma Magica Ability to their apprentices, but Peripheral Code requires them to hold back one crucial secret until after the apprentice is sworn into the Order ArM5, page 66. Presumably, until this final secret is taught, the apprentice can learn the Parma Magica Ability, but can't actually activate a Parma Magica on himself or anyone else.

Outside Tutors[edit]

It is not unusual for a magus to hire mundane tutors to teach his or her apprentice Abilities such as Latin or Artes Liberales. However, if tutors are used, they do not count toward the magus's personal obligation of one season of training per year.

It is also possible to ask another magus to teach one's apprentice in the Arts or Arcane Abilities. This usually involves payment of some kind to the magus who is doing the training. For example, the master might order his apprentice to work in the tutor's laboratory for a few seasons.


Some magi actually send their apprentices to another Covenant to live for one or seasons under the hospitality of another magus. This practice is called Fosterage (HoHS 47). It is most common in House Jerbiton, but is not exclusive to that House.

Playing an Apprentice[edit]

Apprentices can be viable and enjoyable as player characters. Depending on their age and level of training, they can be weaker than a Grog or nearly as powerful as a beginning Magus.

Creating an Apprentice[edit]

To play an apprentice as a player character, create the character as if he or she were a magus of young age. (Rules for child characters are on page 29 of ArM5). The canonical way to choose Virtues and Flaws is to decide, at the start of apprenticeship, what Virtues and Flaws the character will have (ArM5, page 107). However, many troupes may prefer a House Rule where Virtues and Flaws accrue gradually over the course of apprenticeship, as long as they remain approximately balanced.

Either way, the apprentice will discover as he or she learns magic that The Gift is a highly personal and idiosyncratic phenomenon. The apprentice will very likely have certain magical aptitudes (Hermetic Virtues) and handicaps (Flaws).

Duties of an Apprentice[edit]

An apprentice gets at least one season of formal training every year, but the rest of the time, he or she must do whatever the master tells him to do. In the early years, before the apprentice is proficient with Magic Theory and the Arts, his role is limited to menial chores. Later, the master probably makes heavy use of the apprentice as a lab assistant; the apprentice's help adds to the master's Lab Total, and may enable him to complete projects that would otherwise be prohibitively difficult or time-consuming.

For every season the apprentice spends working alongside his master in the lab, he gains Experience Points from Exposure. Those points may be in Magic Theory, the Arts being used in the project, or in any Ability the storyguide agrees is appropriate.

Some magi send their apprentices outside the covenant to perform errands or missions. These provide plenty of opportunities for stories involving player-apprentices. A prudent master will usually send one or more grogs or companions along with the apprentice to provide guidance and protection.

The End of Apprenticeship[edit]

Following the fifteenth year of apprenticeship, every apprentice must pass a special test called the Apprentice's Gauntlet (also Wizard's Gauntlet). If he or she passes, the apprentice becomes a Magus and swears the Hermetic Oath. This usually happens at a Tribunal meeting, if possible, or at a special meeting of magi called a Ceremony of Welcome. After swearing the Oath, the new magus is given a Voting Sigil (exception: House Tremere) and taught the final secret to using Parma Magica. At some point around this time he usually chooses or is given a Magus name; see Naming Conventions.

Many apprentices feel the urge to exercise their new freedom and move away from the Covenant where they were trained, but some remain there for several years or for their whole careers.

Playing an Apprentice in ArM1-ArM4[edit]

ArM5 provides the best rules support of any edition for playing an apprentice, but it is possible to play an apprentice using earlier editions of the rules.

The main rules questions that need to be resolved are:

  • How does the apprentice learn the Arts? One at a time, or all at once as in ArM5?
  • What are the rules implication of having no score in an Art?
  • How and when do apprentices acquire their Virtues and Flaws, especially Hermetic ones?

Apprentices and the Code of Hermes[edit]

The Code of Hermes and the Peripheral Code have established a number of conventions related to apprentices.

Legal Status of Apprentice[edit]

Apprentices are not magi, and according to Canon, they are not personally protected by the Code of Hermes against being killed, stripped of their Gift, scried upon, etc. However, they are considered part of their master's vital magical resources, like his Laboratory or Familiar. If another magus kills or cripples an apprentice, the offender would be guilty of an offense against the master and subject to Hermetic justice at Tribunal.

An implication of this is that the Code of Hermes does not prevent a magus from killing or abusing his own apprentice.

Technically, because they are not yet magi, apprentices aren't bound by the Code's restrictions. However, tradition holds that the master will be held responsible for any crimes or damages caused by his or her apprentice.

A house rule view offering a very different view of the status of apprentices is the Apprentice's Oath.

Rights of an Apprentice[edit]

Apprentices have few rights under the Code of Hermes. The Peripheral Code establishes that they must be provided with a minimum of one season's training a year. If they do not receive this training, they are entitled to leave their master for another magus.

Liability for Apprentice's Actions[edit]

A magus is held responsible for any mischief his apprentice may cause. This includes outright violations of the Code of Hermes, as well as lesser offenses against another magus. Whether the master is also responsible for any mundane offenses the apprentice commits, such as property damage or petty crimes, is not covered by the Code. In general, the Order of Hermes does not consider itself subject to mundane law, but mundane authorities may feel differently (and therein lie the seeds of many a story).

A master is expected to control his or her apprentice, and is entitled to use any means, including scrying, Rego Mentem spells, or deadly force, to do so.

House Bonisagus' Right to Claim Another's Apprentice[edit]

Magi of House Bonisagus swear a special version of the Hermetic Oath. Their version of the Oath entitles them to take another magus's apprentice for their own. The rationale is that Bonisagus magi work for the benefit of the whole Order, and are entitled to take apprentices as a form of support.

Houses of Hermes True Lineages discusses this traditional right in detail, on page 17.


More references are needed. Please contribute by adding some.

  • Apprentices, ArM5 106-107
  • Apprentices with Supernatural Abilities, ArM5 107 and 166
  • Finding an Apprentice, ArM5 106
  • Laboratory Assistance, ArM5 103
  • Learning by Exposure, ArM5 163
  • Teaching, ArM5 164
  • Teaching Parma Magica, ArM5 66
  • Teaching without the student having Parma Magica, ArM5 106
  • Fosterage, HoHS 47

Legacy Page[edit]

The history of this page before August 6, 2010 is archived at Legacy:apprentice