What follows is my theory of Hermetic Economics and the conventions I have devised, which forms the basis of the rules I have devised for spending vis.
Table of Contents
Hermetic Economic Theory
Hermetic Economics is essentially a barter system, and Vis is Money. It can conjure mundane wealth and materials, heal the sick and injured, build walls and towers, enchant magical items, and be brewed for longevity. The relative value of specific Arts may vary depending on regional supply and interests of local magi. For this reason, Vim is used as a base standard. Vim is continually in demand for enchantments and casting rituals such as the Aegis of the Hearth. It is also easiest to obtain since it can be extracted from a magic aura, and there are more than twice as many documented sources of Vim as for any other singe Art. In even exchange (which rarely happens), a pawn of Vim is of equivilent value to a pawn of any other Form. A pawn of a Technique is worth two pawns of Vim.
Other items bartered in Hermetic economics (such as Lab Texts, Books, Longevity Potions, and Magic Items), are bought/sold and traded according to prices set by their equivilent vis value. As a rule of thumb, the value of an item or service is roughly three-times the vis required or three times of what the service provider could have otherwise earned with their time.
Vis as Currency
The basic unit of denomination is the Pawn, the smallest amount divisible and useable by Hermetic Magic. This terminology extends to larger denominations, such as the Rook (10 pawns) and the Queen (100 pawns). Pawnbroker slang includes the Knight (three pawns) and Bishop (five pawns). Most magi use these classical terms. Those who regularly deal in Hermetic financial transactions use fractional values, the basic unit being the Quarter-Pawn. One pawn of Vim vis is valued at four quarter-pawns (written out as "IV q.p.v.", or simply "4q.p.").
One Pawn Form Vis = 4q.p.
During Development, you earned a a Vis Salary of 21 pawns each cycle, and were eligible to earn 3 pawns as Wages by giving over a Season of service (once per year).
Wages, Salaries, and Debts
Salaries are paid out at the end of the Cycle, and Wages at the end of the year in which they were earned. In the Lab, you may draw upon vis as needed, borrowing against expected future earnings for that cycle. At the end of the cycle a reckoning is made, summing up total vis revenues and assets on hand, then subtracting what you used. The remainder is cash on hand. There should be no negative, but if so then the debt is rolled over to the next cycle (maximum debt is 21 pawns). The Form of this vis need not be defined (it can in theory be of any variety), and when spent/exchanged, it is considered equivalent to Vim.
Personal Vis Source
If you have the Personal Vis Source Virtue, you must define the Art of that source. Each year during Development, you receive an additional 2 pawns of a Form or 1 pawn of a Technique. This yield is doubled in play.
Buying & Selling
During Development, at the beginning &/or the end of a Cycle, you may spend some or all of the vis that you have on hand. Multiply the number of pawns you are spending by 4 to determine the q.p.v. value of the goods you receive. Benefits from these purchases may be applied immediately (such as Longevity or a Lab Magic Item). The Price Guide below indicates the Standard Value of most goods & services.
When selling, you get the short end of the stick. Total the q.p. value and divide by 10. That is how many pawns of vis you receive. This is a passive arrangement requiring a trivial amount of time, and can be accomplished with a wave of the hand. You can invest time and use personal connections to get a better deal, and the same goes for Buying. See rules for Haggling & Hustling below.
Hermetic Price Guide
(standard Relative Values)
q.p. equal to Quality
Maximum Quality of 11
q.p. equal to Quality + Level
Maximum Level 15, Maximum Quality of 25 - Level
Ability Summa (General/Martial)
q.p. equal to Quality + twice level
Maximum Level 7, Maximum Quality of 25 - twice level
Ability Summa (Academic/Arcane)
q.p. equal to Quality + three times level
Maximum Level 7, Maximum Quality of 32 - three times level
Ability Summa (Supernatural/Mystery)
q.p. equal to Quality + five times level
Maximum Level 7, Maximum Quality of 36 - five times level)
Look to the "build point" cost in cannon for other types of books; such as a Florireglia, Folio, Commentary, Encyclopedia, etcetera.
- Premium Books
Premium Books have twice the normal cost, but exceed normal maximums. A Tractatus may have a Quality as high as 15. A Summa on an Art may have a Level as high as 20 and a Quality as high as 35 - Level. A Summa on an Ability can have a Level as high as 10 with a Quality as high as 35 - (3 x Level).
- Vain/Poor Books
Crappy books cost half as much and have lower scores. A Tractatus may have a Quality no higher than 6. An Art Summa has a Level Limit of 10 and Quality limit of 15 - Level, or 9 (whichever is lower). An Ability Summa is limited to Level 3, and a Quality of no more than 15 - (3 x Level). Books on Supernatural/Mystery Abilities are never considered Poor.
Lab Texts Including Spells, Charged Items, Lesser Enchantments, and Investments. The base cost is 1q.p. per vive levels, but this may be adjusted for the format the texts are presented in.
Scrolls & Pamphlets
1q.p. per five levels
Most Lab Texts are copied or written out individually as loose scrolls or neatly bound pamphlets or some such. This is for the ease of trading individual spells/enchantments, and are the Standard.
1q.p. per four levels
When a magus Writes Out his Lab Texts as a single bound work (as opposed to scrolls or pamphlets), he creates a Grimoire. This represents a season of effort, writing out levels equal to 20 x their Latin score, and individual texts cannot be divided out for later trade. The benefit is that you may conduct Lab Activities of different types &/or different Arts, so long as they all come from the same Grimoire. Use your lowest applicable Lab Total. Most are already written out in a theme; all spells, all lesser enchantments, spells useful to a sailor magus, and such. This benefit does not apply to a copy or texts written out from translation. Because it is a collection written out by somebody else, you may not have optimal choice over what the collection contains. But since I am not going to write it for you, write up a list with a theme that makes sense and give me the option to add or subtract a few things.
1q.p. per six levels
A Tome is just a big collection of copied spells all bound together. There is no special advantage other than it keeps the texts from getting scattered, but on the other hand they cannot be divided out for individual trade. As fluff, you can say whatever individual loose texts you purchase are actually bound as a tome. But as used here, a Tome is a large stack of Lab Texts purchased in bulk. Many may be useful to you, some may not. Again, I don't want to design the book for you. Write up a list and allow me to add and subtract a few spells.
1q.p. per three levels
There is no benefit from gathering casting tablets together, and indeed they are more useful is separated for individual access.
twice normal cost
For the most part, I don't care if purchased texts come from cannon or are of your design. You are paying for them. Exotic texts involve spells requiring certain Mysteries and those involving Minor Breakthroughs such as a special Range or Duration.
q.p. equal to Age + half of level
Presumes level 50 or less taken by age 50 or sooner.
q.p. equal to level plus twice age
Higher than level 50 and/or taken after age 50.
q.p. equal to age + level, minus 85
A level 50 ritual at age 35 is free, but with this formula, a Redcap may obtain a ritual of high level at any age by paying the difference.
q.p. equal to changes + half of level
6q.p. per Magnitude
Or q.p. equal to Level + Magnitude
12q.p. per Magnitude, plus 12q.p. per remaining open pawn
Or q.p. equal to twice (Level + Magnitude), plus 12q.p. per pawn of remaining space.
Item of Quality
q.p. equal to twice the pyramid value of the bonus provided
The same rule of thumb applies to items of exceptional mundane craftsmanship that provide a bonus. If the item provides two bonuses, pay the cost separate for each bonus.
Figure on q.p. equal to three times the pyramid value of a bonus given or a score provided; or use the price of an equivalent Hermetic Item.
- Rare : Twice the normal value; Items that are still Hermetic (or semi-Hermetic) but require a special Virtue or Mystery.
- Very Rare : Three times normal value; Non Hermetic Items, not that they are more powerful, just that they are expensive because they are scarce in the Hermetic Economy.
q.p. equal to Characteristic + highest Ability
Henchmen & Specialists are characters beyond your Companion & two Grogs They are created as Grog level characters if controlled by you or another player. If NPC, they can be created as a Companion.
Figure 12 times the vis cost, or use the following guideline
- 4-12 q.p. Trivial (one to three Pawns)
- 8-32 q.p. Minor (two to ten Pawns)
- 20-100 q.p. Moderater (five to twenty-five Pawns)
- 40-400 q.p. Major (between a Rook and a Queen)
1q.p. equals 3£ of silver and/or equivalent material wealth.
During Development, you can spend time Refining and Customizing your Lab using the modified rule; It takes one season to install/rearrange a balanced number of Virtues & Flaws, as allowed for Refinement & Size. You can set this up at any time and use it all through development, even if in your backstory your character has moved around locations. However, when you enter play you must put all that aside and start with a fresh new lab. Optionally, you may spend q.p.v. to hand-wave the process, paying to have Refinement improved (up to a maximum of your Magic Theory - 3) and Virtues installed without occupying your time. If you paid for your Lab, you may keep it as is when you enter play. If you built your lab, you may preserve it by paying a trivial sum. The base presumes a Size 0 Lab set up and ready to go, with no Minor or Major Virtues or Flaws (Free ones are of trivial concern).* Large Lab - q.p. equal to 10 times the pyramid value of Size (Size must be paid for separately, even if you do the rest of the work yourself.)
- Refinement: q.p. equal to Refinement x 10, up to a maximum of your Magic Theory -3
- Virtues: 10q.p. Minor, 20q.p. Major (Maximum Virtues equals Size + Refinement, adjusted for by Flaws taken at no cost. You may benefit from a number of Flaw points equal to your Magic Theory score.)