Alternate Tribunals and borders

Well, one of the reasons for doing the 5th edition was precisely so they wouldn't have to be bound by everything from earlier editions. So if it is a remnant from older editions it won't be because the writers felt it had to be kept the same.

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And yet most of the material that is exactly what they did, including keeping spells that no longer fit and in many cases simply failing to edit the text to adapt it to the latest edition.

See above what you deleted. It answers your objection already.

Why would it be a problem that some «areas» did not hold a tribunal meaning? It would only mean that the magi there forego their opportunity to raise issues at the Grand Tribunal. Yes, it may be problematic for magi who do not find a lesser tribunal to team up with, but not totally implausible as a practice.


With that "totally" your statement makes sense. But it becomes also "totally" weak as an argument.

It is debatable whether hermetic politics should follow mundane politics or not. On the one hand, why shouldn't it? On the other hand, because it's part of the Oath to avoid mundane involvement and Quaesitores police it. So, an attempt to redraw a tribunal border because the mundane land has changed hands would be seen as suspect by the Order.

There is a case to be made for following closely cultural/linguistic divisions but on the other hand the Order of Hermes, like the Church, works in Latin.

Now, specifically about the Tribunal of Iberia, I would question the clear-cut separation following the progress of the Reconquista, not least because the concept of the Reconquista is a later historiographical conceit. Until at least the 11th Century there is no real sense of it. The (in)famous El Cid was a Christian mercenary in the service of the Moorish king of Zaragoza. There is a battle of Barbastro in 1064 and then Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212 which partake of the Crusader spirit, but the Tribunal of the Levant is not divided politically following the progress of the Crusades either. This is unless you want to say that Al Andalus is dominated by the Order of Suleiman and not the order of Hermes.

On this point I would also suggest waiting to see how the new Tribunal of Iberia book written by @amseriad and @Galdric does Iberia. They have reworked extensively both the mythic and the hermetic histories.

To me, the idea of making a Catalan tribunal an off-shoot of the Lotharingian tribunal which is being pushed south by the Norman one is amusing. But I have two objections. First, the historical Catalan empire was Mediterranean-looking: at one point it included Sardinia, Sicily, Naples and parts of Greece. Probably the Ebro river and the mountains to the South of it ensured that the Reconquista was mostly a Castilian affair. Second, Hispania was at least as integrated in the Roman Empire as Gaul was so there is no reason hermetic influence needs to be carried into Iberia from Provence by the Flambeau. It could just as easily be homegrown. Iberia produced Popes and Roman Emperors, and the Visigoths that overran it were thoroughly romanised unlike, say, the Franks. So Iberia could well be similar in flavour to Rome or Thebes in terms of old Hermetic tradition. Also, Al Andalus was a cultural powerhouse in the high middle ages, so it would radiate magical influence into Europe and not the other way around.


But that's a game about WWI !!??

Off topic: I think you have just created a powerful meme for canon discussions.

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The main reason why it should not, is that the magi outlive mundane kings, and the covenants are depicted as stable powerhouses lasting centuries in many cases. While it makes sense to follow mundane borders initially, it does not make sense to continuously adapt to the changing borders of church and nobility. Sometimes clusters of magic resources lead to clusters of covenants which logically team up in on tribunal, even if many mundane borders run through the cluster. For these reasons, you can pretty much draw the map at random, and make up the events and covenants and clusters of magi which made that map logical at the time.


Given that I am only trying to demonstrate that we do not know how the early tribunals worked, it is strong enough. I do not object to your conclusion, only to your categorical assertion thereof.

Sub Rosa #16 p.36ff 865 AD: Voventes Centennales tries to make sense of the Lotharingian Tribunal as sanctioned in 865. For this it uses both Jerbiton politics and a general reluctance to drop Tribunal boundaries carefully negotiated for many years.

865 AD: Voventes Centennales also contains a list and a map of Tribunals and covenants after the Sixth Grand Tribunal 865.

There are a lot of issues regarding the Order and politics, the first one being how completely can you really ignore it? In theory and principle the Catholic church was supposed to be above politics but we all know how far from actual practice that was. Covenants which can be crushed by say the combined armies of a united Germany certainly wouldn't care much about the fortunes of a local lord, but on the large scale they would need at least some degree of awareness. The other issue is that just because this is the case in 1220 does not mean it was always the case- Bonisagus by canon corresponded with Charlemagne, and the very early order may well have been much more entangled with politics that the order of 1220. It would then make sense for the initial division of tribunals to follow the historical divisions of the Carolinian Empire, but for it to continue to follow political trends as late as 1066 would not make sense.
there should also, in my opinion, be more interweaving of house and regional politics. To ignore the power of ex miscelania in the British Isles really misses a signifigant aspect of the setting, as much as mssing the domination of (with canon borders) Thebes by the Jerbiton, Rhine by Bonisagus and Iberia by Flambeau. To me evolutions of tribunals after the first division should probably be along the lines of house dynamics.


Only half way on topic but in my own sagas I've always played the three insular tribunals (Stonehenge, Loch Leglean, and Hibernia) as having a bigger Ex Misc influence than in the canon publications. Think the Contested Isle with the whole Coill Trí/treaty of Cnoc Maol Réidh thing but as a shared influence across all three tribunals.

We use Hibernia mostly as it is in TCI and have Loch Leglean be absolutely dominated by the Gruagachan (the other covenants there are isolationist - lots of Merenita, Bjornaer, and the semi-renegade Horsingas). In our Stonehenge there's a tradition that originates with Pralix's army of ungifted hedge wizards being governed by the order as sort of pseudo-members. All these affiliated hedge wizards owe their protection to a powerful magus in return for service (they are legally considered part of that magus' "magical power").

All three tribunals are more Ex Misc influenced than the rest of the order, but in divergent ways - Hibernians shunted their hedge wizards into Connacht and signed treaties with them, Loch Leglean ended up being controlled by barely hermeticised hedge wizards, and Stonehenge treats hedge wizards as a sort of underclass in their society.

A significant departure from canon, but it makes for some very fun politics in game especially if you like messing around with hedge magic.

I meandered a little there but my point is I agree that thinking of tribunal evolution in terms of house dynamics/influence can be quite interesting.


The thing I find surprising in Hibernia is that the secret of Parma Magica hasn't gotten out- all it would take is one native child being given to the order and then returning to his kin once the apprenticeship was finished. The rest of europe the children being taken as apprentices are isolated and often outcast, but where they have a group structure to return to where they would feel welcome it seems to me that security for a secret like that would be practically nonexistant.

Surely, after 15 years, the Stockholm syndrome kicks in?

Or maybe the secret has leaked, but those few who have obtained it understand that they had better keep it for themselves for fear of outright war.

Or maybe it has leaked, and the Coil Tri is slowly building up to take full advantage thereof.

I think there a few factors that make it plausible based on the info in TCI:

  • The treaty only allows magi to spend at most three days in Connacht - so a magus who decides to return to their kin in Connacht will probably get killed by the Coill Trí (who, lacking the parma, are affected by the gift and will mistrust the magus) or by the Ordo Hiberniae (Praesis magi can enter Connacht to enact hermetic justice according to the treaty).
  • Even if they are allowed to stay they will be under extreme suspicion.
  • If a Coill Trí member is discovered to know the parma then it would be assumed the Connacht magus was guilty, and a march would ensue on them and any Coill Trí members they are associated with.
  • The Coill Trí would be well aware that learning the parma is basically a death sentence if discovered.
  • The Coill Trí is equal in size or maybe even larger than the Ordo Hiberniae... but most of those members are probably not gifted. So even if the gifted members learn the parma and can resist the order they would be condemning the weaker giftless members of their traditions to death at the hands of the order.
  • The treaty keeps the gifted membership of the Coill Trí doubly low by requiring a tithe of gifted children at each tribunal.

Plus it does say that Coill Trí members can apply to join a covenant, and if they get accepted they are made to join Ex Miscellanea and become magi. So if a Connacht hedge wizard was found to have the parma things would probably just revert to "Join or Die" and if they join then they are forced to leave Connacht by the treaty, under close scrutiny, and subject to hermetic law.

Certainly for Tytalus, probably Tremere, but Bonisagus, Merinita? I don't see how it could apply to every apprentice. unless the Macgnimartha somehow weeds out the ones who wouldn't keep the secret ( You can't pledge the oath if you show a strong affiliation with native traditions during that time?)

The leakage requires not primarily a strong affection out of Order, but a willingness to break one's word. I agree with you that over a couple of centuries, this should have happened once or twice, which gives rise to a dangerous Coil Tri conspiracy which may or may not surface within the time span of the saga.

I think the two are related. If a group of folk witches in Normady approach a young hermetic magus and offer to buy the secret of parma magica from them he might have the same willingness to betray his oath as our Hibernian mage, but lacks the relationship with the witches of Normandy. Meanwhile the magus of Hibernia is dealing with people wanting to get the secret the order has been using to oppress his blood relatives and their native tradition- even without offer of payment there is a much higher incentive to follow through on breaking the oath..

Is there that much of a group structure? My impression is that the Coill Tri largely exist as an organisation for magi to make treaties with rather than a close knit group. In addition, the Gifted children who were given to it will have been small children, and not full blown members of it (if they were members at all). You may have circumstances where a child has fond memories of one particular (probably un/gently gifted) member of the Coill Tri, and this may have caused the occasional problem, but I'm not sure it would have been a huge thing.