Allowing Court Wizards

As we all know, the Peripheral Code explicately forbids magi from becoming court wizards.

I find myself wondering, in your opinions, what would be the effect upon a saga of changing the background to permit this. To be clear, I don't mean having this part of the Code overruled or repealed, I mean having a saga in which the ruling never occured.

Why am I thinking of doing this, you ask? Because there are a number of interesting historical figures who are in some way connected with magi. Notable to my saga is one Gerard, Chancellor of England under both William the Conqueror and his son William Rufus, later Bishop of Hereford and later still Archbishop of York, reputed (by his ecclesiastic foes) to have secretly been astrologer and magician.

Sure, Gerard and others like him could be a "hedge wizard" but, I thought to myself, why should hedge wizards get all the fun? :slight_smile:

So, what do you think the implications would be for allowing court wizards and, for that matter, for allowing historical figures to be magi of the Order?

If the Order didn't prohibit "court wizards," there would be nearly no way to prohibit meddling in mundane affairs, and the Order itself would be imperiled as too many of its members would advance mundane goals above the Order's.

I would suggest, instead, that a court wizard who is a hermetic mage has two identities, and that the mage merely makes it seem like it's a hedge wizard or (more likely) charlatan working for the king.

It would most likely destroy the Order.

Mundane nobility would suddenly see Wizards as THE power to have - stronger than armies, more powerful than The Church on your side. And, so, everyone would become massively fearful of every wizard that was not "yours". The Church would resent the Order as a whole, and probably label all wizards as satanic or something predictably unpleasant. The temptation for a mage to take over a temporal power would be strong, and others (mundanes and magi) could never be sure who was "in charge", the court or the mage, and would take steps. No fun in general.

So, that "court wizard" could not, as Mythic Europe is laid out in canon, be a Hedge Magician, because the Order would not allow it, for all of the above reasons. He could be an astrologer - that is something less than a hedge wizard. But the first hint of any real power, anything that the Order views as "significant", and he's on the radar, and that story typically has only 2 endings, join or die.

And it's not a question of the HM threatening the Order - it's a question of the HW giving all "wizards" a bad name in general, and the Order suffering the fallout over one wahoo's actions. So "better safe than sorry" is the policy.

Now, a cunning HM would not send up a flare and be large in the public eye, but would be a secret hand behind the power, one who was never seen in the company of the court, never had a reputation - and if the astrologer (or front) got one, so much the better. The Order investigates the astrologer- he's no concern, they ignore the rumours. (For more inspiration, read the Illuminati books. They're just for entertainment.)

The challenge would be to isolate yourself from the knowledge of the most likely mundanes to be investigated (Silent Question, etc etc), and the most likely spells. Not impossible, but certainly a challenge.

Isn't that already the case?


I think that is exactly the point. If the Order would allow court wizards there should be at least a rule to never ever show your real power. Maybe - Healing, advice, astrology, fortune telling (I know, not really possible) or from time to time a pilum of fire is ok. But leave the mundane believing that the powers of a mage are limited. Or you tell the mundane that a mage has great powers but they are painfull/exhaustive etc.
Additionally a mage revealing his the true power should be marched because he is using black magic.

In such a scenario I can imagine court wizards.


That would be the party line, yes. Naturally, I don't buy it. :slight_smile: After all, historically the Church served as advisors to nobles without being destroyed.

Here's my thinking...

First, the prohibition against Interfering with Mundanes remains intact. However, it's core interpretation is: a magus may not use magic to interfer with human free will. This is in line with the church's general probibitions against divination. This limits what a magus can do in ways both obvious (Mentem magic) and subtle (does turning someone into a newt count as interfering with their free will?).

Second, the effects of the Gift are unchanged. Sure, having a magus as an advisor sounds great on paper... but do you really want and advisor you instictively distrust?

Third, the realities of living at court. Sure, being a court wizard is a great way to win friends, influence nations and get access to vast resources but your sanctum is in a Divine Aura of 3+. That makes lab work difficult to say the least. And speaking of lab work, how many seasons of study will you loose because the king wants to know the weather for the next hunting/tourniment/war?

Finally, there is the Church. The Church may object to magi as a seperate power but what if they aren't. Cathedral schools are a great way to teach future apprentices Latin and Artes Liberales... as well as a chance for the Church to hopefully instil a little ethics and faith in future wizards. And, if magi can become members of noble courts, why not priests as well. While not as easy marriage, the Order and Church working together has interesting possibilities. Of course, points two and three have influence here too.

So, I don't think the Order needs to be destroyed by close association with mudanes. In fact, I think allowing it helps make the Order an actual part of Mythic Europe.

if you do not want it, the order will not be destroyed if you change that. Simple as that :slight_smile:

However, the setting becomes more complicated. I think that the most complicate dissue will be that history will start to differ A LOT from mundane history, so you will start having to invent whole changes to the history of the world. Mythic Europe can draw resources from history books because the OoH and other magical beings act more or less in a non-interference way with mundane history. if you change that interaction you will end up with kings that live for a hundred years easily and large diversions from history. Castles will become mostly obsolete for example, so major nobles will not rely in them. In a sense you'll advance the appearance of artillery 400 years or so, ma,ing centralized governments much easier to achieve. also, unless you put some checks on the OoH (like completely nutty quaesitores and a really supernatural church) you'll have quite a reign of the magi there, regardless of what the code says.

be careful about your design: the setting is not really ready fir such a radical change like that. If you want to do it, I encourage you to do it if you and your troupe have FUN doing it, but it can become high fantasy rather easily :slight_smile:


I don't believe that there are any unworkable impediments to a setting where the order acts as court wizards in the setting.

However I think that the magi characters would warp the non-magi characters around them:

[list=]In one year all of the noble's lands produces grain and money and cash, in the same year a magus finds a source of creo vis and learns rituals to produce grain and money in all future years with a few hours work.

The noble and the bishop engage in a dramatic contest of espionage each using misdirection and spies to determine the others intent.A magus uses posing the silent question a few times and gets the same answers.

The noble gathers his armies to lay siege to his rival's castle. The magus has dozens of ways to make that castle a non-issue.[/list]

Magi are too powerful to fit into the court wizard role. My suspicion is that you'd have a better court wizard game by using ungifted companions with virtues similar to what we see in hedge magic or by toning down magic a great deal in some other manner.

On the other hand if you keep the magi out of mundane issues by having them swear not to interfere, I don't see any issue with having the magi and the nobles be much more involved with each other and have almost no secrecy regarding the wizards.

You could have your historical figures who were magi but they have to live within their non-interference oaths

[size=75]That's more or less the setting that I play with, the answer to the question of why don't the magi rule the world is, they more or less already do, they sit in their covenants with all of the power (at least the magical power and a not irrelevant dollop of political power by virtue of the fief that their covenant holds) and none of the responsibility. Why do they want to change this?[/size]

Why would be magi interested being court magi?
For wealth? No, they can create anything.
For glory? No, they couldnt interfere with mundanes.

I can imagine only the option actually they have the desire to rule the country and use the king as a puppet. But this is against the code.

So if you want this find a good reason.

Actually my troupe has introduced some sort of court wizards in the Saga we are playing.

The saga is located in a Iberia setting were a powerful magician order clashes the OoH. Those are wizards of Islamic traditions that support nobles of the Almohad Empire to strike the Christian Kingdoms. As those strikes normally impacted covenants and after important loses, the Tribunal decided to grant a temporary lift of the non-court wizard restriction so the Order is able to fight them back.

As the rule stands now, a magus of the OoH can play the advisor role of a noble only in situations where he is confronting a wizard from the Islamic Order.

Nice ruling there :slight_smile: Basically you are turning the whole mundane armed forces of chrisitan (and not so christian) iberia into grogs :stuck_out_tongue:



Well. I did not saw that point of view. Seems interesting. At least, there are now a lot of on going politics to mess with the players so they do not have time to realize that. :wink:

We have a local count at our side (Dirk the 4th) who suspects we are wizards, I helped him as an architect, and we supplied him food and spearshafts, but that is as far as we dare go. Maybe we should not have buillt this 90foot across paladdio in the middle of the forest...