1222-1227 Defense Discussions

[color=blue]"If I may play devil's advocate for a moment, Fiona says, [color=blue]"I do have one question. I believe the original intent for the rotating princeps duties was to ensure that everyone provided equal service to the covenant. How do we intend to ensure that, for example, Viscaria doesn't spend five seasons out of every six performing services for the betterment of us all, while I only do so once a decade?"

"I thought we were discussing this because we felt like the covenant would be better served by this system than by the rotating princeps system. Each new position is still responsible to report to the Council, and act on the council's orders. If the Council feels like a particular office hasn't been doing enough, it can come up with tasks that need doing and assign them. If they've been doing a particularly bad job, we can still Censure them. Remember, the holder of an office isn't responsible for doing everything herself -- I'm certainly not going to go collecting all the vis by myself, for example. I'm just responsible for making sure it gets done, and am empowered to seek volunteers for each harvesting task. Then I report to the council who did it, and whether or not they deserve special compensation for it.

"If I am performing five seasons of service out of every six, then I'm getting paid in vis by the covenant to do that."

Regarding magical defenses, Tranquillina is officially up for inventing two spells: Ward Against the Curious Scullion, and a version of Ambush on the Deserted Road (see HoH:S, page 64). The former can be cast on circles inscribed at the gates to the Roman city, to keep grogs from leaving the Tribunal grounds; the latter (also a Ring/Circle spell) can be used to make archer-manned murder holes seem like empty alcoves.

So please consider this official notification/request for approval from our Scutatius, Isen. Also Tranquillina should arrange with our Imperator, Alexei, a session for training grogs to correctly use the murder holes. That session, she suggests, should be preceded by a meeting with Alexei and a chosen grog, who can be part of the demonstration for the other grogs. (At the moment I'm planning on Ambush being invented in 1226.2.)

Be sure to check the errata. The originally published version of Ward of Curious Scullion tries to instill a mental command on anyone who passes using Circle/Ring, which is not how that works.

JL warned me that the errata raised the level of Ward of the Curious Scullion to 30; that's cool with me (in fact it makes it an excellent project for Tranquillina). I don't see anything about mental commands in the spell's text on page 104 of Covenants. To me the first sentence, "This spell creates a circle which humans lacking Magic Resistance cannot cross.", is the only mechanical statement, the rest being fluff. That's all I'd expect this Ward to do.

The spell breakdown says Base 3 [move "away"]. Base 3 ReMe is "Make a subtle difference to the target's mental state." The author was attempting to be slick.

Aye, Amul is right...

Isen thinks out loud.
This could be considered offensive by other magi. But it doesn't restrict them, and their grogs have nothing to do outside...
Ok, if you want it, go for it. You'll want to put them on the top of the gates, so that they affect anyone passing under them. Also, you'll need to keep at least one entrance open at the beginning, the time for every grog to enter. In time, these will probably be most useful in our covenant, to bar specific places from enemy magi.

"Ah, allow me to clarify my intent. As you know, the Tribunal Field is currently just a plateau on an adajacent mountain. I will be building on it a walled city with four gates. One gate leads to a regio border for those who are traveling by mundane means. The second "gate" shall be the Hermes Portal from Harco. The third gate leads to the second quarry site on the opposite side of the mountain for those wishing to engage in spectacularly destructive magics. The fourth gate leads to the bridge to Mons Electi proper. The ward I asked for would only be for the fourth gate, and perhaps the Tribunal end of the bridge."

Viscaria considers the matter further. "Although if you wish to claim the privilege as Scutatius, I will happily leave the specifics up to you."

[color=magenta]"I am more than happy to cast the Ward on rings built into the gate tops, provided our esteemed architect," Tranquillina indicates Viscaria with a smile, [color=magenta]"includes the circles into the gates' design."

Tranquillina considers this information for a moment. [color=magenta]"Thank you - I am still catching up on the specifics of the Tribunal Field. My advice to our Scutatius is this: to have the Ward active on the fourth gate before anyone arrives for Tribunal; and then to cast Wards on the first and third gates once everyone has arrived. I can always destroy a given Ward in person, to allow passage at specific times for specific reasons, and recast the spell immediately thereafter. I imagine no ward is necessary at the Hermes Portal itself."

Nope. says, Isen

To be clear, since this only affects mundanes, I tend to consider this more Alexei's province than anything else, truth be told. It only interests me so much as that, given penetration, this could maybe be used in Mons Electi. So go for it :smiley:

Isen ponders tranquillina's words a moment.

I agree about the first and third gates.
The problem with the fourth gate is that this would also impede our servants, covenfolks and apprentices, including those spying on Certamen duels. We can't have you stationed at that gate... We could, of course, have you there twice per day to open and close the passage. But I think this would be imposing useless duties on you. As far as I see it, Alexei's men are more than able to guard this passage from most mundane intrusions.

"Who'll be staying with us at the Administrator's Villa, anyway."

A slight amount of necro-threadery to point out this very good thread on Covenant defenses from the ArM forum. It covers the most heavily defended Convenant Coeris.


Thanks, jebrick :smiley:
I was happy that he finally did it :smiley:

On another subject...

Not only do we have to get a stronger Aegis, but someone teleporting to just the outside of our walls? We need our guards to be trained for this. And magical defenses for this, too.

If Petronius was an attacker, this could spell trouble.
Too bad one can teleport directly into our regio :frowning:

This is unnaceptable. We don't know this guy. He's just a hired specialist.

I say we need comfortable building outside the Aegis for guests. And guests shall not have a token, unless we are sure they are friends and allies.

Isen will so not be happy... A guy walks in, says "Hi, I'm a friend of the guy you don't know but just hired to do a statue, please trust me", and Fiona hands him a token??? Hasn't appolodorus death told us nothing?

I guess this is why we (presumably later) agreed that tokens gifting must be witnessed and approved by 2 people...

Fine, then be prepared to act accordingly, and get all the other players to agree that everyone in the covenant is going to act that way. But presumably, Fiona told someone to expect a magus returning the next day. If you want grogs to get up in the face of everyone who comes by, go for it. You wan to play paranoid, again go for it. You do have that right. And I did create some of that impetus. I really tire of the OOC bickering of no, it shouldn't happen this way. If you, as a player, think your character wouldn't like having something happen a certain way, then do something about it. Do not state it OOC.

They must have an AC, keep that in mind. There, you have your security problem to solve now. How to prevent enemies from accessing the regio. Go.

It is probable and likely that Isen doesn't even know about this, has he made himself visible in the thread where this was stated? Does he know that Praxiteles left and his method of return? I'm going to say no, he was never present in the other thread, so he doesn't know what's going on here.

Think about how this looks. And you're asking these magi to perform services and make things for Mons Electi. Very soon you're going to be interfering with Fiona's magic...

Sure it has, but Viscaria has already established that she's had a long history of correspondence with Praxiteles, that they are friends. Again, play all paranoid if you want. But play paranoid, be paranoid, in character. Trust no one, and have fun in that kind of game. I admit, I did create this situation. I would prefer, if you're going to make these kinds of arguments that you make them in character. When you do these out of character, it's bordering on telling another player how to role-play their own characters. Each individual can respond to the events as they think their characters would. Isen would hate this situation, because of the unknown, I get that. Fiona and Viscaria would tell Isen to "Lighten up, Francis."

Also, by the time this event transpires, Apollodorus has been dead for 3 years, and i think I've established that nothing related to Valerian has happened since. Things start kicking off around the time of Roberto's arrival, which happens after this current story.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think Isen has an unreasonable position, I just think it needs to be forecfully stated in character. I think the players here are mature enough to handle inter-pc conflict.


A couple of questions for JL.

I seem to remember regio entrance is roughly 50' off the ground. Is that correct?

Do you recall a way of changing the regio? Basically changing the boon from a regio that anyone can enter to one which requires a guide. I'm guessing not. Just Brain storming a possible project.

So if we can not limit the entrance to the Regio then we must strengthen the interior warning and defenses. Appear open but restrict access.

this one stood out for me.

Again. In Character and out. I really suggest that we FOCUS on achievable goals rather than grandiose schemes of transporting everyone to Scotland and what not.

It is a couple of stories up, yes. However, that regio entrance is enclosed by the manor house and the castle.

Limiting is difficult, because those with second sight, or augmented senses can easily discern the method for navigating the regio. So intellego specialists really don't have a problem, nor do those gifted with second sight. And to be truthful, I've hand waved this, to allow magi without these capabilities to easily go back and forth. I'm presuming that over the course of a year, characters get used to navigating the regio without a guide, and that there is always a guide present. Guides will be necessary (and again are hand waved) for those traveling to the Tribunal at Mons Electi by mundane means. That doesn't prevent someone from collecting an AC and being able to leap into the regio, though.

Sure, and it becomes apparent after two years, that nothing bad is happening at or to Mons Electi. I'm establishing that some stuff does happen in 1225, and then later in 1227, but that's not at Mons Electi, even. The defense discussion happens over a few years, everyone's paranoid at first, grandiose plans discussed. After a year, nothing bad happens, and the most grandiose plans get discarded, and less grandiose plans are discussed. After another year, rinse and repeat. And now, when Roberto comes, it's three years later, and now the character of the attack is changing a bit... And that's reinforced even more strongly in the 1227 story and will be a hallmark of the Tribunal threads when I kick those off.
Keep in mind, there's a lot of discussion here, but I'm not sure how much of that is reflected in the magi planner. :smiley:
Isen may be doing a lot, but then others decide not to do whatever it was they were asked or had volunteered to do. Such is the nature of a covenant.
If it isn't clear to the characters, it should be, and I'm making it clear to the players here and now. The enemy over-reacted. The enemy was forced to act before they were really ready. Yes, it may look bad for the PCs for a while, but it's not as bad as the thought. And in 1225, they begin to see signs that the battles they're dealing with aren't really the ones they had discussed and never needed over the last few years...
Make sense?

Where do you get that this is OOC bickering or else? There's a reason I put this into the Defense discussions. The way the 2 magi went and all did strike me as thought-provoking so I thought I might stir up a discussion about what we should/could/wanted to do. Not telling some other player (or you) that they did things wrong, this would be against the whole purpose of the post.

Ok, it would have been better, and clearer, if I had did it in character, like Isen saying "Our guards reacted badly, this is wrong" (although I’m not sure he’d have, since this is Alexei’s domain), but I was hurrying, thus the short, quick posts. Please, understand, I often don’t have the time to write good, developed posts (in fact, I shouldn’t be posting right now and are taking too much time :laughing: )

Look again, please, I didn't state "the guards wouldn't have reacted like that", but "we need to train our guards". You'll note that I also said that we need magical defenses, so this is a "hey guys, what can we do if something like this happens?", not "You're doing it badly, the guards/Fiona would never do this".
In fact, I integrated this event retroactively into the defense discussions, by saying that the way the visitors were easily given tokens was probably the reason why we decided in this very thread to change the way tokens were handed down when we discussed this.

The fact that nothing happens after appolodorus death comes also nicely as to why nothing special is done until 1227, save by Isen. People relax.

So, to come back to the questions raised:

  • Since we can’t do anything about the Regio, what do we do about magi teleporting in? Can we do something about it, save upgrade our Aegis?
  • The tokens. We all agreed something needed to be done, but, unless I (probably, since I seem to recall otherwise) missed it, reached so clear conclusion. Who hands them? Under what conditions? I’d suggest at least 2 magi, and the others must be made aware ASAP. Also, we really need to take care to revoke privileges once people are done. Similarly, I’d say that after 1227 and the attacks on Tria and Roberto, Isen insists so that tokens are only handed to known allies. We can have buildings for visitors inside the aura but outside the Aegis.
  • An unknown magus (or more) appears right next to our wall (or inside the covenant). How do the guards react?

Here's a plan for you to comment on if desired. A lot of Tranquillina's first year at Mons Electi was spent making herself a more effective Diocetes. For a full year, between the autumn equinoxes of 1223 and 1224, she spent three days a week being tutored by Otto in French.* At the same time, she practiced her spell Perception of the Conflicting Motives repeatedly, concentrating especially on doing so without speaking. (In her spare moments, especially when the weather was cold, she fussed around with better organizing the vanilla lab she was issued upon her arrival.)

[size=85]* Mechanically, she spent two seasons getting xp from a Teaching source. I like to consider this an abstraction of her multitasking during that year.[/size]

After this first year, Tranquillina is able to hold conversations on everyday topics with the French-speaking covenfolk. Due to her spell mastery, she is also able to cast both Aura of Rightful Authority and Perception of the Conflicting Motives, silently and without gestures, automatically without fatigue (inside the Mons Electi aura; actually, on the mundane side, I think AoRA has a 10% chance of fatiguing her.) Both these spells require only eye contact with the [strike]victim[/strike] beneficiary, and they're low enough level not to warp anyone when used occasionally.

Correspondingly, she plans on "interviewing" covenfolk on a regular basis. 2-3 days per week, she will arrange a post-breakfast meeting (just 5 minutes long or so) with 1-2 covenfolk, preferably near where they work to put them at ease. She'll remind them of important duties and security measures (which the Aura will reinforce), and she'll probe their motives to see if any are discontent, uncertain, traitorous spies, etc. This isn't foolproof, but it should be a huge step towards making sure that trouble isn't going to strike Mons Electi from this unexpected mundane angle in our own home. (Thanks to her nausea-related sigil, she will probably also become the main character in a coherent set of stories the covenfolk start to invent about her....)

Very very roughly, Mons Electi has about 50 grogs, about 50 other named covenfolk (at the moment), about 50 other servants, and about 50 teamsters. Tranquillia can choose the 20 most important covenfolk fron this list and interview them once every two months or so; the 60 next most important covenfolk (including most or all of the grogs) she can get to twice a year or so; and the rest of them about once every year and a half or so. (This doesn't mean every single human working for the covenant - far from it - but it does cover those with access to the regio-side mansion and hence to magi, to covenant assets, to weapons, and to convenient contacts outside the covenant.) Apprentices and familiars are exempt unless specific permission is given by the corresponding magus; personal servants are not exempt (nor should they be!), but Tranquillina will approach the magi first to keep them in the loop.

Counterspying? Isen would kiss you for this. Especially as this is the kind of things he knows to be very important, yet is loathe to do. It reminds him too much of his pater's ways.
And this should be quite effective, to boot. Now, if only Theraphosa and Adeline could mount a decent spy network...

I really need to go back through this thread, and see who can do what. Isen still has some spells he wants to invent, some he has tasked Adeline to procure (in the merchant thread), but still...

For everyone's information: the summer before the Tribunal, Tranquillina invented the spell Ambush on the Deserted Road (HoH:S page 64), which prevents a group of people inside a Ring from being perceived by passers-by while allowing them to see and hear each other. Isen and Alexei should be aware of this, and members of the turb trained in its use, since it can certainly be employed in the defense of the covenant.