Alt setting - Covenants or no covenants...

OK, take two...

You're assuming a couple of things: A) the bishop, who is not in the Order, knows about Parma, B) knows this nun is a maga, and C) has someone who isn't in the Order who is capable of learning. None of these facts are necessarily true.

I think, in this model, magi who wish to avoid this (and other) mundane pressure on their lives and abilities would hide the extent and nature of those abilities. Just because the magi themselves live and work within mudane society doesn't mean they are more open about their powers. In fact, they could well be less open about their powers. Rather than hiding in distant towers on the edge of civlization, these magi are hiding within civilization. If they want to focus on the "high magic" ideal of exploring the principles of the universe and empowering themselves rather than being stuck casting spells and making items for mundanes, then they will hide the full extent of their powers. Just because the Bishop's clerk can call down a rain of fire doesn't mean he ever has or that the bishop knows that he can... or even knows his clerk is a magus.

Those magi who play at being court wizards or hedge witches and do sell their powers might even, perhaps, be less powerful... if only because the "high magic" types refuse to share their secrets with mere hedge wizards.

His lord ordered an attack not a negotiation. He didn't commit a crime because his oath to his lord takes precedence over his oath to his silly little club or professional society or study group. He may not have even been a court wizard maybe he was a minor noble who practiced magic in secret.

Nope the charge only implies that she could not have sold the item because she never actually owned it. In many (if not most) parts of 1220 women could not and did not own property. All there property is owned by their closest male relative. In your setting a Maga would usually not legally own her own lab, any books she writes, any physical vis she carries, or any item she crafted including her talisman.

As far as being in the thrall of her husband. Not necessary she is just devoted to her husband and filling her societal role as wife in a historically appropriate manor. Or do you expect her to control her spouse with magic and feminine wiles like a cut rate Disney villain.

As far as earning a bad rep for low magic. If the Magi who practice low magic get to earn money through their magic. They'll spend less time doing other things to support themselves. So they can spend more time studying. So the can kick the ass of anyone dumb enough to talk about them behind their backs.

It most certainly can be HoH:TL pg 51

It doesn't assume anything it states them. Laws of probability, the chances that something that has already happened did happen are always 1 in 1.

Secrecy is all well and good but a Maga in a convent is probably a known quantity. Heavily structured lives and all.

In fact considering the time and energy that has to go into practicing magic how do you propose magi hide it in medieval communities. Have you ever tried to keep a secret in a small town of say 5000 people. Thats a huge town by 13th century standards.

The idea that Medieval Europe has an abundance of free space that Magi can set up an independent community in to practice magic sounds dangerously close to the idea that Medieval Europeans have an abundance of free time to secretly practice magic in. A bishops clerk isn't exactly working a 40 hour work week with 4 weeks of vacation a year. Heck he doesn't even get Sunday off in most cases.

My point is that it is only possible for Magi to hold themselves apart if they create a space where the Hermetic code is preeminent over all other laws. Otherwise the order would be forced to except that any oath the Magi makes to a preeminent power overrides the oath. The purpose of the Magus lifestyle is so Magi can spend their life dedicated to magic not devote half their life to mundane work. Even more important it keeps the blacksmith magi, the scholar magi, and the noble magi on even footing within the order. Otherwise wealthy magi will gain power far faster then average or poor magi.

See after reading the section in the book that discusses the difference between high and low research settings I realized that the game was written to cater to varying levels of historical accuracy. If you care about the impact covenants have on their surroundings then you can use the highly customizable rules from covenants to model it effectively. Otherwise why confuse the issue for those who don't care.

Well first off there are companions. Second the current setting leaves magi opportunities to interact or not, allowing more character options. Making them have to be part of society makes some characters impossible. Third having powerful magi fully integrated into medieval society would effect the society as much as it would the magi. The history would succumb to easily to the fantasy. The oath keeps the historical portions of the setting believably unaffected by magic.

You're assuming that vassals are mindless slaves. That simply isn't the case. In fact, the feudal system is riddled with conflicting oaths and loyalities. Any given noble is likely to hold lands from different lords and so have oaths of loyality those lords, to say nothing of his loyalty to his family, the Church and his relationships with his neighbors and allies. It is almost inevitable that those oaths will come into conflict. How one navigates those conflicting oaths... well that makes for very interesting stories.

You know, on due consideration and talking things out with one of my troupe, I think Henricus has the right of it... maybe what I'm really going for is a Mythic Europe before the Order. "Historically", I think the Order is more of a Renessaince entity than a High Medieval one anyway (just my feeling). It might be interesting to play in a world where Bonisagus is on the faculty at Bologna and the Order is just getting started. I was already cribbing off the Learned Magicians from Hedge Magic Revised for a lot of my concept...

Thanks everyone for your input and ideas.

Its seems to me that, with the "standard" OoH and Code, most or all covenants would be located inside magic regios by 1220. There are less than 1200 magi scattered across 12 tribunals. If there are 100 magi per tribunal, divided into 10-20 covenants, is shouldn't have been that difficult to locate appropriate spaces over the last 250 years.

Another way to approach things is to assume that they are located in the less settled areas that have no Lord. Doesn't work in England, but does in places like the Pyranees. 1220 population boom means these areas are getting settled, and more and more covenants are retreating into regios to avoid coming into conflict with, and risking accustation of interference in, mundane affairs.

As for swearing oaths, isn't that prohibited by the code? I've told my troupe that the order has a "thou shalt have no allegiences before me" policy, and that swearing an oath of fealty to anyone else (church or state) is at least a low crime.

In my saga, traditionalists want to maintain this policy by retreating further and further from mundane contact. The other camp (forget the name from HoH:TL) is pushing for the Pope to recognize the OoH as a law unto itself, exempt from civil and canon law, similar to groups like the K. Hospitalar.

Canonically, this is pretty much the case. Certainly, magi are specifically forbidden oaths fo fealty to nobles. I'm not sure the sitauation with the Church is as clearly defined. I know in prior editions, only oaths to nobles were specifically forbidden. HoH:TL suggests that involvment with both nobles and the church is forbidden.

Personally, I find that position both unsustainable and uninteresting. As I said before, what's the point of playing in Mythic Europe if you don't actually play in Mythic Europe.

Note: the prohibition against oaths exists in the Peripheral Code, which varies between Tribunals. Strictly speaking, the Oath does not forbid magi to take mundanes oaths or be members of the clergy. Rather, it is the interpretation and expansion of thr Oath within the Peripheral Code which does this.

I still wanted to elaborate that post: With Parma, you have some personal measure of defense against other magi, with the Aegis, you have a means to defend a larger place against others. The Aegis of the Heart is arguably as important to the canonical view of the order as Parma Magica is.

If you have no means to defend your home against other wizards, faeries, magical beings and demons, you'll probably need to stay hidden, which means you may have a covenant (agreement) with neighboring magi but not a centralized or even fixed place to live. This will mean that Redcaps, magi Trianomae and Guernici will have a harder time keeping tabs on members, Bonisagi and Verditus might also find their labs raided more often.

Compare it to armor and castles: Armor means you'll have more chance of staying alive in a fight, meaning you can impose your will to unarmored people more often (Parma'd magi vs hedge magic). Castles mean you have a base to rest, build your strength and receive communications from ally and enemy (Aegis'ed covenants).

This can certainly be an interesting situation, but be mindful that the current one is dependent on covenants as places to be a significant safe house.

In my alternate setting, I removed the "interference with mundanes" clause. That doesn't make it okay to go nuts because you still have the "bring harm to the Order" clause so it just makes it more grey. However, the whole Oath thing is definitely a no-no. Magi may be more involved with nobility and they have taken the field with no sanctions but a straight up oath, service as a court wizard, is not allowed. The whole Court Wizard role is taken by less-powerful Hermetics who are not Order members or by Learned Magicians. The setting is Harn so there are more practitioners of both arts out there and its a bit more high fantasy.

I did create a group of magi who entered into the Crusades though. They're slowly becoming an actual organization known as the Knights of Saint Nerius and have a small castle in the lands of the Crusade. But I reasoned it differently... they swore no oaths to the Pope or mundane institution, they swore them to God. Here are the Code Rulings:

Grand Tribunal, 618 TR
Remnas Ex Miscellanea brought charges against the magi known as The Nine Staves of the Pontiff. He alleged that their assistance to the Church in waging war and embarking on Crusade in the Levant area had endangered the Order by revealing their powers, engendering hatred amongst the local cabals and unacceptable interference with mundanes. He also cited that they were in violation of the prohibition against oaths of fealty to mundane authorities. The Grand Tribunal was unable to obtain a decision on the matter due to statements from the individuals indicating that their oaths were to a divine overlord, not the Pontiff, and that Rollas’ accusation extended unlawful immunity to non-Order members. The Nine Staves were also able to point to the expansion of new territories for the Order through their works. The Grand Tribunal ruled that, since no oath was given to the Pontiff, and that the magi had prosecuted their Crusade for divine and personal reasons against non-Order practitioners, that no violations of the Code had occurred.

Grand Tribunal, 651 TR
Charges were brought by the Quaesitores regarding the establishment of the Knights of Saint Nerius, a proposed fighting order within the Church. The founding members of the order were all magi of the Order of Hermes and, it was argued, that their oath to the Church was in violation of the Code. The Knights of Saint Nerius were ably defended by Kestor ex Guernicus, a member of the Nerians, who proved that there were no oaths to the Pontiff, only to God and the Church as a whole. Kestor was able to show that, on several occasions, the order had not accepted orders from mundane authorities and Church officers on the grounds that they violated the order’s precepts or Code of Hermes. That the Knights of Saint Nerius had not petitioned to the Pontiff for recognition of their Rule and Code and, therefore, they were no different than any other mystery or gathering that existed within the Order of Hermes for pursuing similar ends. The Grand Tribunal acquitted, citing the obvious risk of such a grouping, but accepting that many other cabals and conspiracies existed within the Order that were possessed of far more dubious means and motives. That the Knights of Saint Nerius swore, in their own personal faith, to uphold the image of Saint Nerius was deemed to be a boon to the image of the Order of Hermes at large.

Not sure if the sidestep would work in a strict Code environment but its good enough for me.

Those arguments are null and void if the accusations had focused on "Endangering the Order through revealing of their identity and powers as magi and magae". There were some really dodgy Questitori involved with that trial if they didn't think of that line. Got to wonder what was really being covered up, and what was being paid.

Failing to remain anonymous is a Code violation? I don't recall that from any of the books I own...

Regardless, as I mentioned, it's a high fantasy campaign in Harn, so the Order is just one of several known magical orders.

Yes, I scratched my head at that response as well; it didn't sound very RAW to me.

In my own campaign set in Mythic Europe, the order is not a secret society by any stretch of the imagination. It is known by learned men, well-travelled folk, educated nobles, and scholarly clergy. Less educated commoners and such know that wizards exist, just like they know about fairies, etc, but much of their "information" is incorrect. I built off of the discussion of this topic in LoM.

I would say it depends on how badly not remaining anonymous affects the Order.

Those knighs for example would become talk of the town all over. They are using their powers apparently indiscriminately and, as noted, gaining ire of the local magicians.

How would those NOT qualify as endangering the Order? Humboldtscott noted that learned people know of Order, with example of wizards openly forming a knightly order and using their spells openly everyone would know about them.

One way I've described covenants is to analogize them to modern "think tanks." Most people have heard of them, but don't really understand what they do, and even fewer understand the methods they use or the structures of the organizations.

The order survives not by hiding, but by not getting involved in mundane politics. That would upset the natural order of things and bring down God's wrath.

The distinction between learned and unlearned in my saga is that people who know more about magic understand that magic does not equal infernal. Less learned folk are more prone to conflating the two.

The local magicians are not Order, therefore they have no protections under the Code. As I mentioned, it's not Mythic Europe but Harn although the Crusades are taking place. But there are far more arcanist societies and many/most are not friends of the Order.

The entire purpose in placing it in Harn was to remove some of the more obvious restrictions on the Code. The Code, per RAW, can be extremely stifling depending on the bent of your GM and local Quaesitor. I wanted to remove all of that. So endangering the Order requires proof of endangerment/harm to a member of the Order. Since the templar/magi order are off on the Crusades and the enemy magicians are not Order, there has been no showing of direct harm. It's not your ArM5 and that was my intention.

However, I think you'll find precedent after precedent that allows for Order magi to go around lighting local magicians on fire so long as they were not Order members themselves. "Join or Die" comes to mind... And I checked and found no provision requiring confidentiality of an Order membership. In fact, the Redcaps rely on such recognition to gain safe passage even in Mythic Europe.

Yes, unlike some folks on here, I get that your setting is not the standard. My apologies if in an attempt to avoid rambling I didn't distinguish between RAW and the specific situation under discussion.

As for the RAW, I concur with your assessment that the code has no secrecy clause. While the book is coy as ever, the clearest representation of the relationship between magi and mundane society is in LoM. Serf's Parma on page #'s, its a 2-3 page entry headed something like "what nobles know about the order."

Well, your story and your rules. But my point is not that nobody would give crap about someone frying some outsider magicians, but rather bringing the Order and it's abilities into spotlight.

Ok, let me explain what my point is... My point is, not knowing your exact world so could be perfectly moot and not should not be considered criticism on your world but rather my point on the "endangering the order" in general, that mages cannot perform OVERT activities showing off their abilities to people who do not know them.

Fry few hedge mages who refuse to join? Cool if you do it deep in the woods.
Criminal if you do it in the middle of busy market, even if nobody else but hedge mage is hurt.

People are going to start asking questions about folks who throw around flames and create stuff out of thin air. If that is fine in your saga, cool. But you should in my view be prepared to explain to your players why mages have not established dominance over the rest of society. What is keeping them in check, and why this power does not care if mages are openly showing off their powers?

And yet we play in a game world where dragons attacking cities are published adventures. That there are dangerous magicians out there is not in doubt by the mundane of Mythic Europe, but do they know of the Order of Hermes and would the blame fall on the order for any magical rampages? Depends on your saga.

I think that having no covenants takes a lot away from the game.

A covenant is very much a covenant(agreement) between players as much as anything else; it determines what kinds of characters are or aren't going to work in the saga and lets the SG know what kinds of stories the group want. The SG is part of the group - so picking boons/hooks should be a collaborative affair for all involved and not just the SG sitting back and saying 'pick stuff.'

The characters and interactions with the world they have grow directly from this, and it lets the players know what kinds of characters might not be such a good fit with the kind of game the group wants to run.

If you view hooks/boons as the group agreeing what kind of saga they want, it helps a lot. Many boons say 'we want these stories'. Many hooks say 'we don't want these other stories.' Hooks like Urban or Politics (major) are players voting to be involved in medieval society. Boons like isolated are players voting not to be involved in medieval society. Suggest/sell the hooks/boons you want, and explain why you don't want others. I'd avoid making a hard rule, though - people will be more engaged in the game if they feel they had a hand in shaping it beyond 'this is my character.'

Once this is done, the covenant then provides a cast of characters beyond the magi the players can get behind. Companions and grogs in heavy-medieval-society games often play bigger roles, and having entire adventures without a magus present can be both fun and very in-setting.

Magi are not required to maintain the secrecy of the Order. The Order isn't secret: every single peasant in Mythic Europe is meant to know that if you hurt one of the guys in the red hats, then magicians will burn you to death in front of your family.

Most of the rich people in Europe know about the Order (as in "Lords of Men"). Some of what they know ius untrue, because House Jerbiton particularly likes lying to them (for example, all magi need to talk to cast magic, and you can weaken a magus by taking his staff away are both things spread by the Jerbitons, who are them asters of silent casting and prefer wands.) Many craftsmen also know about the Order.

This isn't "Vampire: the Masquerade" - your magus has every right to cast spells in the marketplace of the nearest town if he likes.

And the Order does have a knightly group that casts spells at its enemies. It's the Legion of Mithras.