A Matter of Hermetic Law

Well, thats a pretty good arguement, but I think you are missing something Berengar. The Bishop shows up and they start looking around...they find a passageway they can't go down..."My lord, here is a set of stairs we can't seem to go down!"
Either the Bishop can get in or he can't...but there is still evidence of Magic.


...but that never happened. (yet anyway)

The other thing to point out here...

If the Bishop hears about the Covenant burning, he may decide to investigate THAT. He might then find evidence of magic...and since these magi were in his custody, then who did it....ahhhh those ones over there...and they DID something HERE!...
Said magi would have:

  1. Deprived of Magical power..(the Verdi)
  2. Endangered the Order (more specificially his own Covenant); when the Bishop shows up at THEIR door...
    So by burning the other Covenant down, he might have made the situation WORSE.

    Rogers decision there...


Okay, here's how I would be tempted to deal with this. Make the Verdi active rather than passive about it, not merely relying on the Order for their revenge. I assume all the PC Magi will be at Tribunal - if not this plan won't go far.

Also, if the PCs arrive with the attitude of "Here's the stuff we saved from the Church - sorry about the inconvenience & misunderstanding," this won't work too well.

Have one of them turn up to Tribunal, with the others' sigils for voting. He makes alliances, talks to people, pushes for punishment. Let the players counter argue, etc. In my mind, they are probably convicted - especially if the Verdi are being quite lenient in their demands - all they want is the Tribunal to accept that they get a shot at the PCs' covenant without risk of retribution, so long as they do no more damage than was done to their own.

This is, of course, already happening. Or perhaps starts withing minutes of the Tribunal ruling, with the Verdi's friends being informed by a spell or magic item that allows simple messages to be passed.

PCs get home to a smoking ruin... carefully and exactly as badly damaged as the Verdi covenant was, any vis stocks above the return of the stolen vis + the same again in recompense set carefully aside, the same with books and so forth. And the same number of mundanes killed.

See how they like it.


note that I have to build the case from what I get from this forum. So unless I make this a fulltime job for Roger and me I needs have to make some assumptions I could not verify before.

From what I have heard so far from Roger, the passageway was sealed off, but it was stated nowhere how that was accomplished. The easiest way in terms of spell magnitude involved would have been to have the staircase to the labs cave in: a magic use easily detected by Quaesitores, but not by the bishop's investigators. So that's something Roger and his group can adjudicate, but not us.

I had of course to assume also consistent NPCs. A bishop accusing somebody of crafting devil-dolls, but then failing to at once have the accused's home searched for the workshop, is liable to read mass with his undies over his head as well.
With such NPCs in a campaign, everything and nothing is possible. So players like the one of the greedy magus are hard to blame if they don't get a grasp on the gameworld.

This requires that
(a) the bishop's men find evidence of recent magic use at the Verditius covenant site and can tag a date to it, and
(b) they already know of of the PC magi, and how these are liable to use magic.
Nothing I read from Roger so far leads me to infer any of this. If just (b) were true, quite independently of any recent actions the PCs would have to either quickly neutralize the witchhunt or leave the area for a few decades. Otherwise they would verrry likely be its next targets.

The most important open point here would be, whether the covenfolk of the Verditius covenant are around when the bishop's men show up. If so, they will be questioned, and somebody will talk. What he will tell will most likely fan up the fires of the witchhunt even higher, and might allow the bishop's inquisition to identify our greedy PC magus. Reasonable covenfolk would, however, leave the area latest after the magus killed their autocrat.

Kind regards,


Jus about everything else you have said is reasonable, but I would have to disagree with this one...
Consider: The Covenant is their home. The reason that they are here is that they didn't have anywhere else to be... While certain individual would certainly leave post haste, most would stay put. Even in the the thirteenth century, people would have the tendencey to stay around.
New Orleans- Look at all the people that choose to stay even though there were reports that a second storm was coming in...
Or the people that live in any flood zone..they rebuild their homes and year after year they flood out again.
Consider the worst slums in any part of the world...people get killed, and their families stay...
Look at Iraq...people are getting killed ...the're not leaving.

There would be people around...the Bishops men would find them. They would point to another magi...(who used magic they could see). The Bishop certainly might not know of the 'other' group directly (because they are in another Bishops district), but I am certain the other Bishop is knowledgeable about them.
You are certainly correct in that they would have to vacate or stop the mess in a hurry...

Considering that a not very sociable magus just tried to explain to them that their masters had been seized on witchcraft charges ( https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/investigating-creatures/112/1 ), and then killed their autocrat and run off with what he could salvage, reasonable covenfolk would look for independent confirmations of the magus' claims, and then start figuring out what their fate will be if they stay.

But if no authority figure to organize a decision and its execution is left at the covenant, I should also assume that some covenfolk would still stay behind - not a reasonable but a plausible and understandable reaction.

Kind regards,


The role of the storyguide sometimes involves making the gamers smarter than they are.

This player was faced with a dilemma and hit panic button. Ok, it can happen to the best of us if we are faced with a group we dont know. But that is why this is a game of having multiple classes. We play one powerful mage capable of murder and mayhem, but who has been tutored for 15 years in the proper way to do things. (why didnt an covenant archer put an arrow in his back, when he murdered the autocrat, or left with the loot!)
A character capable of interaction with the world in different ways. and a character for blasts, greed and stupidity.
This balanced group can interact with each other. Compainions giving words of advice to the socially incapable mages. And generally can act as voices of reason. Or give the covenant a grog with commensense.
And dont hand out dilemmas to mages that cannot handle them. It really seems like that at some point a groupstyle of chatter took over, and they decided it was the best thing to bend the rules.
You really need to talk to the group about your style of playing these things, and in the future take steps to insure that they know it is a world of concequences. That powerful mages use their power to solve issues by using their status more than anything. And let the companions bicker about getting the power.

These mages HAVE power, they HAVE wealth! Because they have cooporated into covenants and because there are guidelines, so that the archmages dont just kill off everybody for their resurces.
The mages have gone beyond the limitations of the gift with their parma, so that they are not influenced by jealously and mistrust and envy. Your playing group have to be mature enough to play without the same issues.

The social darvenism style of playing can work, but it must be subtle. Blatant aggression will get you hunted down. And should rarely uccur since it almost never have happened in the order anno 1220. So move it to year 900 or earlier. Have them meet and defeat hedgewizard. Not engage in the complex world of order politics and dilemma. Some players dont have the maturity to play that way.

I am sorry if I am dissing anybody here.
All I am saying is that arsmagica is a slow paced game, where drastic actions most likely are the wrong ones.
If your players want to play a guild of mages making grasps for power then place them in a high fantasy setting, where good and bad is easier to grasp. If they are not making decisions the way you like it, start by letting them make personality rolls. Then they will learn to define how they are playing the game. If the mage in order wasnt greedy then he would act greedy. And try and make let them make real persons, ok their gift may warp them into monsters, but the order knows this and rightly fears mages that may go mad from twillights. Another trick is to let the other players stats be a secret.
That might cure some tendencies of powerplaying. Since they might be drawn to the story rather than bettering each other.

Have a storyguides face. Players look for clues to what is ok to do and not. So dont talk yourself but have them look for the answers. That is what npcs are for. That way when they screw up, they should know what they did wrong. The logics of your story must show itself in that story.

For the current situation talk things over with the player in mind. Tell him how the order might see these things. Then let him make a choice of trying to make up, if he doesnt have him hunted down, oh and the players will in that process have his lab raided. So that they will know that they must play subtle. (To keep the mask on, have a quasitor arrive and make points of law.)

Keep develloping your bag of tricks. Without it every game would fall apart.

How'd this thing play out in the end? (if indeed it has played out)

I'm very excited I am...

Happen what did?

Tell us you must...

Glad to see somebody is as sleepdeprived as I am... :wink:

Course... you prob'ly explain it away with work, yes?

Just got back from the session that more or less concluded things.

We cheated some stuff to get things moving in stead of dragging it out another seven years to the next tribunal (which was an option).

Basically, the Quaesitores were able to determine the character was responsible. He took an active defence, namely that the Verditious forfit their immunity when they brought the wrath of the mundanes upon their heads.

The Praeco (a Tremere exarch) called the guy into her office and said, "The Q. think this should go to trial. I'm pretty sure if it did it will cost you your life. Give me a reason to help you. And make it good." (She's all about Law & Order, but didn't particularly want to make this mess public.)

He thought hard and long and said, "I'm a good teacher. I can train an apprentice for you."

I thought that was a pretty good offer, and about the only thing he had that she couldn't get somewhere else. (I mean, she'll have an extra soldier in her troop, one likely to have pussant Magic Theory, no less. Although she will have to make sure he's appropriately indocrinated into the Tremere mindset.)

Tribunal concluded and charges were not brought against him. The day after he was brought before the Praeco and the Q. and put on "trial." He was found guilty and lost his familiar (and has to return what he took from the covenant). The Praeco did this because there are a lot of non-covenanted magi in our game who would want the character's head if they found out what he did. This way, if someone does find out what happened, she can say, "Yeah, we found out about it too late to bring it to Tribunal, but we tried and punished him."

And now he's pretty much the Tremere party's toadie, and has to give his apprentice over to them when they ask for it.

All in all, I think I traded up in the story-worthiness of things. He's indebted, involved in politics against his will, and is going to pay for taking that apprentice many times over before all is said and done.

Ah, nice one! snickers evilly :smiling_imp:

Poooor lil' bugger... But what did the Verditii feel about this solution? Did they gain anything from it?

Can one deside such a serious punishment as loosing one`s familiar whitout a tribunal? I mean for a Magus that is not that mutch better than dying. If the familiar was left alive and just painfully seperated from the mage, both would be in missery for some time, and many mages would rather take their chances whit a martch than having to kill their familiar. Dont serious things like that have to be desided upon by a tribunal?

I seem to remember reading that any "council of magi" may make decisions, even decisions like that I would guess. The question is one of whether the Tribunal later supports that decision or not.

It opens up some nice storytelling possibilities where the wounded party appeals to a Tribunal to look at his case again.

Of course, for that, he'd need to be alive so losing his familiar while harsh at least gives him his life and the opportunity to be heard at a later date.

One can march another mage, on the asuption that it is what the tribunal wil do, however it is frowned upon and if the tribunal find the desition to be wrong you can bet the one that unlawfully killed another mage wil be punished for it. I guess one can do somthing of the same whit other punishments as well. Poor familiar.

Probably not, but consider it this way. This entire resolution was a 'behind closed doors' solution. The alternative was charges are made, he goes to Trial and he's killed.

So does the magus bitch about his familiar being 'illegally' killed and in the process go to court and end up dead, or does he take his punishment and like it.

I think it's a great solution. The new books sort of establish that a lot of legal precedeings are 'resolved' before they get to Tribunal. I think this is an excellent solution. It establishes that there are reprocussions, that laws exist, that laws can be broken, and that 'getting away with it' still has consequences.

In addition to loseing the familiar the character needs to train an apprentice. More than that, there is a secret between the character and a variety of NPC's. Some powerful characters worked outside the law, but revealing that information puts the characters life at risk. They are all carrying around a dark secret of sorts now. Saga worthy stuff. Kudos!

Yes I to think it was a wonderful in game solution, I was just wondering if they could acutly do that, but yes when they put it that way it is quite understandable.

Thanks for giving us the update! Nice to hear of your final solution. I like the way you played it!

I'm curious how come the rest of the tribunal hadn't heard or didn't know of the incident? - even if the culprit wasn't generally disclosed I would still have expected the burning of a covenant to be an important issue at the tribunal and at least a persistant rumour. So how did the characters succeed at the tribunal to bury the case and/or the magus' involvement?

And finally I hope you keep the Verditii in the playing field - working on their own little getting back at the magus who burned their covenant. Of course they might have to work subtle if the matter has been officially settled, but vengence might still be an issue. Perhaps the best way to keep the magus on his toes, on top of his newly established role as "Tremere-toadie", might simply to have him learn or imply to him that they surely think of vengance with capital V - might even let him hear it through the rumor mills of the tribunal - and then let them disappear or keep very low profile. I reckon that would be more frigthening than to have them make immediate and open actions.

Besides that it's also always nice to have some nasty future plots/surprises in store for the troupe.... :smiling_imp: