A Tribunal case

Maga Alicia is brought to tribunal by Quaesitor Bertha, who accuses her of killing Quaesitor Carolus in cold blood and outside a proper Wizard's War and asks for her to be Marched. In fact, she also accuses Alicia of not abiding by the results of certamen, of impeding a quaesitorial investigation etc., but points out that if Alicia is found guilty of murder of a fellow maga, the other crimes matter little.

After some heated discussion, the Tribunal reconstructs the following facts, on which both Alicia and Bertha basically agree.
Carolus was investigating some potential Hermetic violation, and this brought him to Alicia's doorstep. After some heated discussion about to what extent Carolus' quaesitorial authority allowed him to pry into Alicia's affairs, the two agreed to fight a certamen. Carolus agreed that if Alicia won, he would leave, stop pestering Alicia, and avoid encouraging anyone else from delving into the issue, including mentioning it to his housemates or anyone else. Alicia in turn agreed that if Carolus won, she would allow him unlimited access to her Sanctum for the next three days, as well as allowing him to cast certain divinations on her.

The certamen was fought with the Arts of Rego and Corpus, and Carolus fairly, if narrowly won; and remained by Alicia's side, guarding her, while she recovered her senses. When Alicia recovered consciousness, she noticed that someone had tampered with her hair. Surreptitiously casting an Intellego spell, she discovered that some of them were now in Carolus' pouch. She immediately demanded them back; but Carolus refused, claiming that he had used the final spell of the Certamen to take them, so he was entitled to them. Alicia then cast a powerful Perdo Corpus on Carolus, empowered by a rook of vis, slaying him.

Bertha says that in the light of these facts the law is very, very clearly against Alicia. Alicia, on the other hand, states that in the light of the same facts, the law is very clearly in her favour. In particular, she says that:
a) The final spell in certamen does not allow a magus to violate the Code. So while it can be used to harm or ridicule the loser, it can't be used to slay him, or deprive him of magical power (see ArM5, p.90), unless that was one of the conditions under which the certamen was fought.
b) Taking an arcane connection through force or deception from an unwilling magus is a serious deprivation of magical power -- specifically, it seriously deprives him of magical defenses against the holder of the connection. It matters not whether no one takes advantage of the lowered defenses, just like dispelling a Parma or an Aegis deprives a magus or covenant of magi of "defensive" magical power regardless of whether anyone takes advantage of the lowered defense.
c) In the face of such an egregious violation of the Oath, Alicia claims she was perfectly entitled to slay Carolus (who had, after all, specifically requested upon taking the Oath that his sodales slay him, should he violate it) to regain the magical power unfairly stolen from her and prevent it from being used for further crimes. In fact, Alicia points out that she should be entitled to a rook of vis from Carolus' legacy in compensation for the rook of vis she was forced to spend to defend herself.

What do you say, sodales?
(One note: please ignore the HP section on the Intangible Assassin for purposes of this discussion. With all due respect to the author, I find it contradicting other sources on a number of issues, and I also find it's not entirely clear on how legal claiming arcane connections by force is).

Burn the witch!

While it may not seem important, the potential Hermetic violation being undefined smacks of a personal witch hunt. As a member of the Tribunal, I would ask if these two had a history of bad blood, and specifically what that potential Hermetic violation was? Speaking as someone who has tried to create interesting Hermetic cases within the setting described, these are two important facts and would be published with the case, and would have been determined in the Private Hearing prior to it being presented at tribunal.

The legal merit, as I understand it, is if taking an Arcane Connection to another magus is a deprivation of power. This treads dangerously close to criminalizing possession of an arcane connection to another magus, as even amici will have a falling out and accuse the other of acquiring (or keeping) arcane connections. Are we saying that magi have a right to all the arcane connections that they create, and a refusal to turn those arcane connections back to the magus constitute a deprivation of magical power? Depriving a covenant of their Aegis, buy using Perdo Vim magics to take it down has a tangible cost, namely the vis used to re-cast the Aegis. Dispelling Parma, along the lines of taking an Arcane Connection has no tangible cost. Something nefarious may be afoot, but it may have been the result of a botched spell, too. We cannot know that Carolus did not have some other intent behind it, without knowing more of the facts of the case.

I submit that this case be returned to the Presiding Quaesitor while the prosecution and defense determine the facts of the case. Collecting an arcane connection, with the malicious intent, is entirely different than collecting an arcane connection routinely. I'll acknowledge that Carolus's behavior was unorthodox, I've never heard a Quaesitor acting so, and he would have access to any number of arcane connections since he now had rights to her sanctum.

She's going down, hard.

First, even if her claim of deprivation of magical power stood, it would be a case for tribunal, therefore her actions are unsanctioned and outside the bounds of the Code.

Second, her accusation of deprivation of magical power is defined by the core rulebook (pg 14) "is invoked to punish actions against a magus that fall short of physical harm". Common punishments are deprivation of magical power such as fines, or in extreme cases, destruction of familiar or talisman. Again, her actions fall far outside the accepted bounds for what she is claiming.

Third, her claim itself does not hold water. She is claiming deprivation of magical power, but is unable to prove any reduction in her defenses (her defenses are, in fact, the same as they were prior to the Certamen). She would be better off arguing the potential for a future injury, but until that potential was realized, she has not been deprived of anything.

Lastly, there are several other actions she could have taken instead of murder. She could have destroyed the AC using her PeCo, thus allaying her fears. She could have brought suit against the Quaesitor in tribunal, claiming (correctly) that as taking an AC violated the terms of the Certamen, rendering her loss invalid and demanding return of the AC. In addition she could have demanded reassignment of the Quaesitor off her case due to his breach of Certanem terms.

As she had myriad non-lethal options, and no justification for her lethal actions, she would quickly be ruled against by an impartial tribunal. Of course, impartial tribunals don't actually exist, so that may change things a bit....

Uh, I did not mention this stuff because I did not consider it important. But, since you ask, the crime was diabolism :slight_smile:
As for a history of bad blood, nope (although there was some history of bad blood between the parentes of the two magi, albeit from many decades earlier).

It's actually three things. In reverse, from c) to a):

c) Can you slay a magus who has committed a High Crime (i.e. violated the Oath, as opposed to violating lesser restrictions imposed by the Tribunals, such as training apprentices without having adequate knowledge of the Arts oneself) without first bringing the case to a Tribunal? Does the fact that by slaying you are somehow redressing the violation (e.g. recovering some magical power that was unduly taken from you) make any difference?

b) Does taking/making an arcane connection to a magus forcibly or by deception involve deprivation of magical power, like e.g. dispelling his parma would? Obviously, if a magus freely gives one of his sodales an arcane connection to himself, that sodalis is not at fault, nor is he forced to give it back unless he agreed to do so when accepting the connection.
Note that, personally, I don't think that deprivation of magical power per se needs to involve tangible additional damage to the deprived party in order to be liable for prosecution: if you steal a wand from a magus' sanctum, use it for a few years, and then return it before he notices the disappearance, you are still liable of depriving him of magical power. Of course, if not having the wand at hand then causes his death, you are also liable of causing his death, but that's a different charge.

a) Does the fact that an arcane connection is taken (or a parma dispelled) through a certamen's final spell change things, if the act wasn't something agreed upon as part of the certamen's outcome?

Ok, this answers c), basically "can you slay a magus who violates the Oath, as he specifically requested upon swearing it?" Your answer is "no", but can you quote legal precedent/evidence?

I think it's uncontroversial that, in theory, the punishment for any violation of the Oath can be death, but the Tribunal will often mete out lesser punishments reserving death if the culprit does not comply. This is good for the offended party too, since he often gets "reimbursement" he would not get from the offending party's demise.

Uh. No. I mean, they are now, after she has recovered the arcane connection and destroyed it. But during the time between the certamen and her recovery of the connection her defenses against Carolus were arguably seriously weakened. Again, from my point of view, depriving someone of magical power is an offense independent of any additional damage that deprivation might cause.

This is a good point. Alicia claims that she was afraid that, since Carolus had refused her explicit request and now was in such a position of magical superiority, that he would surely slay her if she attempted to oppose him without overwhelming force.

Again, this is point c). If a magus steals your talisman, can you slay him and recover the talisman or do you have to bring him to Tribunal? I was under the impression that you could slay him outright -- but of course, if it turned out that he had not taken the talisman, you'd be liable for slaying a fellow magus, so going to Tribunal is generally "safer" unless you assume that the situation will seriously "degenerate" before the next Tribunal.

Ah, so you do agree on point a): taking an AC via the last spell of Certamen (unless it's something agreed upon by both parties beforehand) is not legal.

You can always slay another magus, but if you do, be ready to provide incontrovertible proof that the magus in question had forfeited the protection of the Code by commiting a crime so clear and severe that he now represented an immediate danger to the Order. A Tribunal meeting will still be necessary to confirm your decision and if it doesn't, you have breached the Code in the most severe way and will be Marched.

That certainly wasn't the case here.

It doesn't matter. Even if it did constitute a deprivation of magical power (IMHO it doesn't), the reaction had no common measure with the purported crime. A deprivation of magical power is usually punished in kind. Killing a magus because he deprived you of magical power is going way overboard. Deciding upon a suitable punishment is what the Tribunal is for.

No. Gathering an arcane conneciton to another magus is not a crime. Using it may be a crime, or not, depending on what it is used for. (Scrying, for example, is clearly a crime. Boosting penetration for a healing is clearly not.) You cannot judge based on the perceived intent, only on the actions.

Aggravating all of that is the fact that Alicia killed a Quaesitor during an official investigation. Allowing that to pass would rob the House of any power to investigate crimes against the Order, and weaken the Order.

I vote for Alicia to be Marched. If by some fluke or political maneuvering she isn't, I expect that powerful members of House Guernicus will declare Wizard's War on her.

This is the most important fact of the case. It changes the entire context of the confrontation of killing in self-defense to cold blooded murder in the furtherance of the ongoing diabolism.

It is a key part of the prosecution's case that the Quaesitor was acting in official capacity AND had some measure of evidence the supported an investigation of Alicia. I was willing to entertain the fact that the Alicia might be falsely accused, and was concerned with the Guernicus having a vendetta and using his powers to harass or harm Alicia.

The key to creating Hermetic trials is having all of the facts at hand. If there is a dispute between facts, they are decided at the Private Hearing by the Presiding Quaesitor, and therefore the Tribunal gets the facts, nothing but the facts, and must be able to test the legal merits of the other's argument. The Prosecution must present a legal merit in favor of the decision it is seeking, and the defense must present the same. In short, the defense's legal merit is that taking an AC through force or deception is a high crime, in the category of depriving a magus of magical power (I'll note it's not listed in the deprivation section of HoH:TL, Guernicus chapter, while not stipulating that list is exhaustive) and forfeits the immunity of the magus doing so. As Arthur indicates, this test fails.

Now, if the defendant were instead, having been subjected to numerous failed witchhunts by Carolus in the past, and now having had an arcane forcibly taken from her, fearing that he would resort to a magical attack and cover it up under the guise of an official Quaesitorial investigation. Certainly the fact would at least allow her to appeal for mercy before the Tribunal, and have a sentence of being Marched commuted and some fine is instead levied.

Hmm. I actually reviewed both the Oath and the Quaesitor section on HoH:TL, and realized that, indeed, a magus cannot "take justice in his own hands" (short of undoing someone else's crime: stealing back your talisman is ok, stealing his too is not). You really do have to bring the case to Tribunal if feasible, and in general apply force "with a principle of proportionality". In many years my troupe and I have always played it "wrong" :smiley:

One thing that surprises me greatly is that a lot of people (by no means the totality, but perhaps the majority) do not consider a crime a crime unless it harms the victim directly. For example, tearing down a magus' parma is not deprivation of magical power, unless some other evil befalls the victim as a consequence. For all who see it this way, would you also rule that "borrowing" some resource from a magus without his knowledge (and thus consent) would be legal, as long as the resource was returned before the magus realized it was missing? Would you consider scrying legal as long as the perpetrator did not damage the victim with the knowledge gained? It really seems strange to me.

As for the case, in the end the Tribunal ruled that Alicia be punished with the loss of her talisman, and the loss of all "privacy" rights in the Quaesitor investigation (on the crime that Carolus was originally investigating). The precedent is from HoH:TL, of a magus (Gravis of Flambeau) who slew another after serious, but perfectly legal, provocation -- being punished with the loss of his familiar. In this case, the Tribunal recognized that Alicia had been wronged by Carolus, and had some reason to fear about her own safety (so her punishment should be lighter than that of Gravis) given that Carolus was essentially pointing a knife at her throat, but she definitely overreacted since she could just as easily have destroyed the Arcane Connection with a spell.

She got off easy. She must have diabolic co-conspirators in the Tribunal!

Uh, yeah? Are there victimless crimes in the Order? I don't think so. Although what I say about the vis thing below is acontradiction of sorts.

The Code, both the Oath and the PC describe what is illegal, scrying, whether or not it is damaging is illegal. Stealing, wheather or not you are caught is illegal. The canon suggests that scrying is prosecuted aggressively. Your example of stealing and then making restitution all without being noticed doesn't hide the fact that he stole. It does present something of a quandry for the Presiding Quaesitor and perhaps a prosecuting Quaesitor of whether there was any deprivation of magical power, since it was never noticed, but discovered after the fact. My guess is that some small fine of 10 pawns of vis is levied, and it's all done behind closed doors and published in the list of cases at Tribunal.

I disagree on this. Her extenuating circumstances where definitely better than those of a magus who kills another just because the other made his voice funny (but still fully functional) with a spell. The latter case was punished with loss of a familiar.

Well, it seems to me that deprivation is deprivation, regardless of whether you notice it or incur harm from it.
That's why if someone takes away one of your magical protections, you have been deprived of some of your magical power (the aforementioned magical protection), regardless of whether you incur further losses or harm as a consequence. But many posters above (e.g. Arthur) appear to disagree, which baffles me.

I think that was extremely lenient from the Tribunal. As I mentioned, House Guernicus would be extremely displeased by such a lowly punishment. She killed a Quaesitor, and only loses her talisman? Is a Quaesitor's life only Worth this little to the Tribunal? It certainly is not to House Guernicus and I am sure some of their members would declare Wizard's War on her. Perfectly legaly.

Consider a real-life equivalent. A cop shows up at your doorstep and steals something from you, like the keys to your home. Are you justified in killing him? And if the tribunal was to sentence you to a monetary fine, how do you think others cops would react to that?

I would note that this action constitutes scrying according to the Code. That, alone, would have justified the loss of her talisman, IMNSHO.

Note that, according to HoH:TL p.64: "The Presiding Quaesitor also sets all punishments for breaches of the law that do not result in a Wizard’s March." I really don't see the presiding Queasitor letting her off that easy. HoH:TL describes the process of determining penalties in some details (p.59).

The fact, which you left out and considered irrelevant, is that Carolus was discharging his duty under the Code. It's a fair point to say he overstepped his authority to collect the AC, but it's also fair to point out that Carolus never had to agree to Certamen and could press the investigation forward without the Certamen, although it might have been more difficult.

Well, it seems to me that deprivation is deprivation, regardless of whether you notice it or incur harm from it.
That's why if someone takes away one of your magical protections, you have been deprived of some of your magical power (the aforementioned magical protection), regardless of whether you incur further losses or harm as a consequence. But many posters above (e.g. Arthur) appear to disagree, which baffles me.
Here's the problem. Magical protection isn't defined in the list in HoH:TL. So, maybe in your setting it is considered deprivation of magical power. My guess is that the list, within the setting is exhaustive, and expanded as these cases come up (it's now met the legal merit requirement). So heretofore, in your setting this issue has never come up before, and so Carolus has no reason to suspect, based on a strict interpretation of the Code that he was violating her rights (it was never in the list before), if it was, he never would have done what he did. However, if we presume that the Peripheral Code does not provide an exhaustive list of what is a deprivation of magical power, he should still have enough general knowledge to know what he's doing is borderline overreach of his authority at best, or an outright Hermetic crime at worst. Will a Quaesitor, much like a modern day prosecuter, overstep his authority? Sure.

Dead men tell no tales, we have no idea of what his extenuating circumstances are, and indeed, the premise of this seemed to obfuscate his side from the very beginning. I'm having some difficult of his motivation to act in such a way as he did that precipitated his own murder.

That is because we disagree that taking an arcane conneciton is a deprivation of magical power. There are many legitimate reasons for taking an arcane connection. So long as it is not used to scry upon the maga, or to do her harm, no crime had been commited. She could have challenged him to another Certamen to force him to relinquish the lock or hair (and prevent him from taken any furth AC from her), or brought a case against him at Tribunal. But killing him was totally out of proportion.

Note that in the ruling you refer to (HoH:TL p.47), the guilty party was punished by the death of his familiar. That is only one step away from being Marched. And the magus that had been killed was not a Quaesitor acting in the performance of his duties. The loss of a talisman is one of the lightest punishment possible. It is, after all, only a loss of the vis and time invested into the device.

She killed a magus (Quaesitors are just magi like everyone else). Said magus had unlawfully deprived her of her magical protections; and by this act, which is unlawful in itself, had put her in a position of obvious danger -- one in which someone who had just shown himself willing to violate the code held a (metaphorical) knife at her throat.

I'm sure most magi would agree that the life of a Quaesitor is not worth more than the life of any other magus. I carefully considered what House Guernicus would do. First of all, they are really interested about maintaining their privileges, the basis of which is their reputation of integrity. One of their members had committed a crime; the worst thing they could do would be to seek private vengeance. Instead, they decided to ask for full disclosure of the maga's secrets (to them!) during the investigation. Basically, I expect them to just go through her life with the finest of nets. If they discover nothing, hey, Carolus just took it up against a perfectly upright citizen. If not, they can take righteous vengeance.

I don't think it's a fair analogy. First and foremost, the authority of Quaesitores is far more limited than that of the police. They can't arrest you, they can't detain you etc. So, rather than a cop, I'd call it a private investigator. Second, what Carolus was doing is not like stealing of one's keys; it's something that a) is far more serious (it's a High Crime -- technically, the Tribunal could punish it with anything up to death) and presented a far more immediate threat to Alicia. Against an opponent with an arcane connection to you, you enjoy almost no magical defense. It's like finding someone sneaking into your house at night, with a clearly visible gun. How would one be punished in your country for shooting the guy? In mine you would get off with a fairly light punishment, particularly if you had no criminal precedent.

I utterly disagree. If someone steals your property, you certainly can cast a spell to find out who has it. Should he claim you scryed upon him, he'd get laughed at by the tribunal. It's like a real life pickpocket stealing your wallet, you stealing it back, and him trying to get you convicted! :smiley:

I would point out that Quaesitors who abuse their position would get Wizard Wars from aggrieved parties, if their own House did not quickly take a stance against them -- which it does. Let me reiterate: the Quaesitors are not the police. They have essentially no authority except for the prestige that comes with the role.

5th Edition, in a break from past editions has instilled a moral authority in House Guernicus, generally, and Quaesitores in particular. He may not have had any legal authority to do what he did. He may have had a moral authority, and I'd guess that any magus would wonder what caused him to act as he did. You're conveniently overlooking it by equating his actions to any other magus. Magi of House Guernicus are not any other magus (you've just discounted Hermetic Prestige completely, granted it's a meh virtue). Hermetic Prestige should have cast a huge shadow over this entire trial.

You presented a one sided version of events that appeared to favor Alicia. You initially ignored motivations of the character who she murdered, he was given virtually no mention at the trial, his motivations were ignored at the trial. I had suspected shenanigans on his part before, but no, he was investigating a crime, a crime that led to her, as is his duty under the Code, and suddenly he's murdered for a specious charge at best? Pulease...

Alicia should be Marched for slaying a Magus. Collecting an Arcane Connection is not intrinsically a crime; even if it were, the penalty should be determined by Tribunal; Carolus had not attempted to slay her or committed any proven crime. If Carolus had used the collected Arcane Connection to harm or scry on Alicia that would be criminal, but this is not the case.

The context of Certamen is irrelevant. I note as a side point that Carolus should not have agreed to the duel to begin with, as the rights and duties of a quaesitor are not subject to a personal dispute resolution.

Alicia would have been better off if Carolus had been "caught" in her santum, where she would be in her right to slay him without any jeopardy.

I'm afraid we'll keep on disagreeing here.

According to your argument, since there are many legitimate reasons for scrying on a magus, so long as the scrying is not used to deprive the maga of magical power or do her harm, no crime has been committed. Right? No! Anything that reduces the magical puissance of a magus is deprivation of magical power. No matter what the reason, it's a crime. Just like with scrying: gaining any information magically about a magus that you would not have been able to gain otherwise is a crime, even if you just cast an Intellego Mentem spell to discreetly find out what she'll like best for dinner. And in this case, Alicia had explicitly stated her disagreement, and asked for the connection back. Nope. High crime.

This is like saying that if someone scries on you, you should challenge them to Certamen to force them to stop. Nope. They have committed a High crime. You don't need Certamen to make them stop.

Yes, and no. If someone steals an arcane connection to you, it's not like if he steals a book on Aquam. It's a real, imminent threat. To go back to real life cases, it's the difference between someone stealing your wallet (you probably should not shoot them) and someone holding you at gunpoint, even if it turns that the gun was not charged or was just a toy. You feel threatened, and a lethal reaction is far more justified -- shoot him, and you get off with a far more lenient penalty than for killing someone who's insulted you. The Tribunal did agree that killing was out of proportion, since (in theory) she could just have destroyed the AC. So they punished her.

By my book, loss of a talisman in the next most serious single punishment after loss of a familiar. And it was not her only punishment. She lost all right to privacy protection for the duration of the investigation too, which was apparently a pretty important thing to her given what happened.

Let me say that no one really knows his motivations, apart from what was told at Tribunal.
I would add that Alicia was not suspected of diabolism (as you might have incorrectly have inferred).
In fact, Carolus suspected she was a victim, whether of mind control or of some curse, and wanted to delve deeper into the matter.
Alicia was reclusive, got twice as suspicious as soon as she heard demons mentioned, and got paranoid when she basically found herself with a gun pointed at her head. From my point of view, it's one of those cases when both parties make mistakes, and in a very tense situation someone ends up pulling the trigger. But hey, thanks for your opinions on the matter.

My goodness, the more you describe Carolus's actions the more stupid he sounds.

He knowingly commits a Hermetic crime, against a victim of another Hermetic crime. The fscker deserved to die.

I keep seeing this stated. But I fail to see it supported by evidence. If someone creates an Arcane Connection to you, your magical power is seriously diminished (specifically, your protective power against the holder of the connection). Frankly, any other interpretation of the Code not only would seem illogical to me, it would lead to a far less stable order, as everyone would scramble to collect connections to everyone else, and Parma would become far, far less useful (remember the story hook about the Bonisagus ordered to destroy his Parma-piercing discovery)?

Folks, do you realize that someone having an Arcane Connection to you is like someone pointing a gun at your nose? Sure, he might have the best of intentions, but...

Yes. With the exception that an Arcane connection is a direct, dangerous and immediate threat. It's not someone stealing a few pawns of Aquam vis, a Summa, or even your apprentice.

Carolus had deprived her of magical power, and effectively held her at gunpoint. If someone holds you at gunpoint, he can't say "but I did not pull the trigger!" when you do!

A Quaesitor cannot cast Intellego Mentem spells on a magus during an investigation under any circumstance. Similarly, he cannot generally get into another magus' sanctum. So certamen was only fair: if he won, he would have had far more investigative power than usually allowed. If he lost, he agreed to drop the case (at least as far as Alicia was concerned).