Amendments to the Code of Hermes

If your character or group were given the opportunity to amend the Code of Hermes (not just changing the Peripheral Code, but wholly amending provisions of the Code, or adding entirely new ones, or incorporating parts of the Peripheral Code), what would you do ?

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I propose the following:

"I will not molest the faeries or magical creatures, let their vengeance catch my sodales also".

"I will not molest the mundanes or suffer myself to serve them, and thereby bring bring ruin or my sodales".

"I will not deal with devils, except to protect myself and my sodales against their schemes, lest I emperil my soul and souls of my sodales as well".

"I will diligently train apprentices who will swear to this Code, and should any of them turn against the Order and my sodales, I shall be the first to strike them down and bring them to justice, if I have the power to do so."

"I will not deprive or attempt to deprive any member of a Order of a rightfully claimed and diligently used magical resource, including well-trained apprentices or future apprentices. If I choose to share with other members of the Order what I find in my search for wisdom and power, I shall trade them fairly".

"I will not suffer valuable knowledge to go lost, and I shall preserve sources of magic from destruction and wasting".

Why faeries are singled out is an enigma. Add the magical, sure.

It's curious the Divine isn't really represented in the Oath.

Drop the molestation, leaving just "I shall not suffer myself to serve the mundanes, and thereby bring debase my sodales". If molestation and retribution is the key, just combine it with the general stipulation above. Nay, I say - magi should fear not the mundanes! It isn't a matter of retribution - that is left to great beings of magic and faerie. Rather, it is a matter of dignity and privacy.

The Church, now that's another matter - the Divine needs to be treated seperately, not as mere "mundanes".

Too dangerous; the devil will seep throught he loophole. It is better to cut off an arm (the dealing magus) than risk contaminating all.

Well, dilligently is implied; this can be left as Peripheral Code. The stipulation isn't necessary either - you should commit, not commit to "maybe, if it's easy". At any rate, this is a declaratory duty not to be taken too strictly.

"rightfully claimed"? "dilligently used"? No. What his is his. Just "his magical resoruces". The Peripheral Code will then stipulate what this includes, how to arbitrate this, and so on.

Certianly NOT limit sharing of information to "fair trade"! Let each magus share what secrets he wants with whomever he wants for what price he feels is right.

No. This is fine for an idealogy for some magi, but let us not force all magi to observe it.

As anyone involved with "law" will tell you, when you try to more tighly define something, by adding words like "diligently" etc, you are actually creating more problems.

If "training" isn't defined, then how is "diligently" defined? Two seasons a year? Every one? Bleh.

One important power of the Code lies in the fact that it is defined by practice, and that practice can vary from Tribunal to Tribunal IC, and Troupe to Troupe OOC. Trying to define it more tightly with mere words does a disservice to that power.

Now, that said, some elements are utterly lacking- "magical creatures" is a great example, and one I'd support.

The bit about demons is, I agree with YR7, a snare and a delusion. Just say "no", and forgive those who deserve forgiveness, and in what measure. Any "exceptions" open a door of demonic headaches.

I'll have to think on the rest...

What about this:

"I will not molest the faeries or magical creatures, nor provoke the Divine, lest their vengeance catch my sodales also"

What about this:

"I shall not suffer myself to serve the mundanes, nor mess in their affairs, and thereby harm the peace and dignity of my sodales".

I think that the Church should be treated separately only insofar as it is directly backed by Divine power. Without it, priests and bishops are of no more consequence than nobles or merchants. Therefore, I think the prohibition against provoking the Divine should suffice.

Rather, I worry if the wording would be sufficiently inclusive as to include both the monotheistic Divine God, or magical or faerie gods, as to create something that both Abrahamic and pagan mages could swear in good conscience. Would it be better to say "the Divine" or "Divinity" ?

I wished for a wording that it would make sure that mages that actively combat demons or study them in order to fight them would not be liable to prosecution. Any ideas ?

As for apprentices, I wished for a wording that would ensure that Gifted children, which are being diligently trained for apprenticeship but not yet opened to the Arts, cannot be snatched up by the first passer-by magus. Also to ensure that the blood parent mage of a Gifted child has automatic first claim on it, even if they have not yet opened the Arts. Any ideas ?

I wished for a obligation to ensure that any piece of magical knowledge, once discovered, remains available to the Order in some form forever. You may choose how to trade or record it, but not utterly destroy it or allow it to get lost. I also wished for a prohibition to cooperate in the destruction of magical sites or knowledge, by action or inaction: the magus might not take action himself, but could not stand utterly idle and let a magical site be destroyed, even if his only action is to call for help.

Any reason why this should not become the ideology of the whole Order ? I wish to incorporate the Guardians of the Forest ruling in the Oath in some form, and ensure that militancy to protect magic is always admitted, and culpable neglect punished.

What about "I shall not suffer the knowledge of the Order to get lost, or sources of magic to be destroyed, lest my sodales and future members of the Order be diminished by their lack".

They aren't now. Where do you see this as suggested currently?

A mage who fights demons is hardly "dealing with devils". As used, the word "deal" seems, here, to be the formal sense, as in "to make a deal with", not " to have dealings with". Studying demons is not dealing with them (unless it is, indeed, a quid pro quo exchange with the creatures themselves), and destroying is certainly not dealing (unless the deal is "I smite you and you die").

As it stands, there is certainly a distance between the Finding of an Apprentice, and the formal Claiming of one, and that distance is not always comfortable nor secure. Otoh, you don't want magi "claiming" dozens of children on spec, and paying peanuts to have them learn Latin, and thus legitimately claiming that they are all spoken for.

This is an area that could be tightened up, but a clause requiring undefined training is not the answer, and specifics are not a viable approach.

The "once/7 year" Tribunal is one problem- there must be a way a parent can post a claim as a Parens before the child reaches the minimum age of apprenticeship (age 5 or so), without waiting to appear before a Tribunal. And similarly for children of any age, when the finding mage deems them not yet ready for training or cannot that first season open their Arts - a subjective decision, but, short of the rights of Bonisagus, not one that another mage should be allowed to usurp.

Perhaps something similar to claiming a sanctum? Notify all, put a mark on the child? And then a clock starts ticking, as to when "training" must start?

Wanton destruction of same could be seen under the umbrella of "not depriving a member of magical power". (this would, clearly, have to be a peripheral interpretation, but I'd be surprised if the issue hadn't come up.) Otoh, a blanket prohibition could be a Catch-22 - more than one adventure has hinged on a decision whether to destroy some valuable magical source/item/information/object rather than let a larger evil flourish.

Interesting, especially the magical animals bit. Just got back from a Tribunal where there was an attempt to have a dragon declared an enemy of the Order - and the presiding Quaesitor explicitly noted during the discussion that magical creatures are not protected under the Code. I think there is a very good reason for this - while I can see slaying someone's magical animal companion as potentially an offence, as it might be said to deprive the maga in question of a magical resource - but that is far from clear cut - I would imagine many Hermetic Magi are happy to hunt and kill magical animals for vis???

cj x

This all seems reasonable, but then why are activist demonhunters charged in some Tribunals ? This is what makes me find some trouble with the current wording.

Yeah, this is a real problem, heightened by the fact that an apprentice may get a demonstrably better training by reserving some years of pre-official apprenticeship, for scholarship in mundane Abilities necessary or highly useful to mages (notably Latin and Concentration), instead of shoving everything in the 15-year course after you open the Arts. Nonetheless, in such pre-opening training, an apprentice that is still diligently trained remains liable to opportunistic claims from predatory mages. Such a situation needs to be remedied, as better-trained apprentices are a definite gain for the Order. Not to mention the massive injustice inherent in usurpation claimings.

Kindly care to elaborate on the idea.

Yeah, but a new explict provision in the code that explictly prohibits wanton destruction or culpable neglect of magical knowledge and sites would have much more force. You can see the stirrings of such opinion in the Guardians of Rhine ruling. I wish to move such a rule directly in the Code.

Such special case might be easily justified in the Peripheral Code as avoiding endangerment of mages, if things indeed are so dire. Less serious cases might be treated by burying the dangerous stuff in some secure archive or storage. Durenmar or Magvillus spring to mind.

I would easily point out that many magi happily hunt and kill faerie creatures for vis, notwithstanding the "do not molest faerie" provision, and this is accepted policy in the Order (every magus sometimes finds himself in dire need of vis). So adding protection for magical creatures as well would help curb the most blatant excesses, and still allow for a reasonable amount of "hunting".

To build up a conservationist standard of reasonable use and preservation for magical and faerie sites and creatures looks like basic Hermetic common sense (and hence should be enshrined in the Code). Apart from reducing the likelihood of reprisals, this is where the overwhelimg majority of vis, covenant sites, familiars, companions, and study insights come from, for mages.

After reflection (ok, actually it just suddenly occurred to me), the prohibition re "I will not molest the faeries" is there because the Fae are a "whole", almost a foreign nation, and one on a par with the Hermetic Order.

Magical animals, while individually powerful, are neither organized into nor operate as a larger whole, much less have a court, royalty, allegiances, and so on.

I'd love to. Unfortunately, while you, I presume, have put some thought into this, I am among those who first considered it less than 12 hours ago.

With time, maybe I can, but I'm not going to toss something out half-cooked.

No worries, I'd guess that this is the type of thread that grows slowly and thoughtfully, and infrequently but regularly finds a place at the top of the page, as it takes more than a cursory glance through the rules to respond with more than a kneejerk.

From a very mercenary and economic Verditius point of view (Fabrica Diabolica for the Loch Cailte story).

"I will not endanger the Order through my actions. Nor will I offer my services to Mundanes without the proper degree of separation (I shall not sully my Arts to deal directly with Mundanes), and only accept the appropriate price for my creations. I shall not exclusively sell to one Mundane in favor of another, and thereby bring ruin on my Sodales.

It is jealousy that shall harm the Order. If all are offered the crafts and services at the appropriate price, jealousy can be averted.

"I will not molest the faeries or magical creatures, nor provoke the Divine, and thereby bring their wrath upon my sodales"

I would suggest the above. This Code should not be interpreted to disallow molesting faeries or magical creatures per se; it only prohibits it to the extent it can be traced back to the Order, magi, and so on. Naturally, in practical terms when you harass a faerie lord you'll be endagaring your sodales. But when you hunt down and kill an independent magical creature, you won't be. Hence the difference between the application of the above to Magical and Faerie beings - even with this rule in place, magi could and would happily hunt down magical wolves and whatnot, but would be wise to stay clear of hunting down the minions of the Faerie King.

A blanket prohibition against molesting magical creatures is indeed problematic due to the desire to hunt magical animals for raw vis.

I would suggest:
"I shall not suffer myself to serve the mundanes. Nor shall I mess in their affairs, and thereby harm the peace and dignity of my sodales".

I would lose the "nor mess in their affairs" as a universal prohibition. Too many magi want to mess in their affairs - trading with them, chasing them off magical lands, and so on. Let's not deny our sodales the right to do as they please with the lowly mundanes, as long as it does not harm "the peace and dignity" of their sodales.


Divine. While pagan magi may not recognize God as worthy of worship, Hermetic magic certainly does recognize the Dominion aura and the Divine Realm. The Divine is very seperate from the faerie pagan gods (or from the Magical divinities).

As others have noted, "dealing" should merely be interpreted to mean "make a deal with" rather than "deal with the problem" for this to be the case. All that is required is a Grand Tribunal Decision on this, setting it in the Peripheral Code; there is no need for legalese.

That said, a magus that actively hunts down demons is very likely to bring demonic attention upon his sodales. And he'll be guilty of that.


I am tempted to say - again - that this is a matter for the peripheral code. I don't see the current Code requiring 15 years' apprenticehip. It is certainly reasonable for young apprentices to have a longer apprentcieship - perhaps 15 years from age 10 or above should be the norm. Thus, if you declare your child to be your apprentice from the moment he is born, you'd still be required to train him only 15 years and the quaesitors will be barking up your tree only when he's around 25 years old.

I'd have to look at the Guardians of the Forest resolution itself. If I recall correctly, it said something to the effect of "Magi have the right to protect magical places", not "Magi have the duty to protect magical places". This is a key difference. There are too many magi that would want to hide their occult knowledge, to subvert Magical to Faerie, who would prefer to sit idly by as Durenmar burns, not lifting a finger to save all those books, and so on. Allowing magi to save and guard magical resources is one thing; forcing magi to do so is tyrrani of a high degree and I'd say the magi would be very leery of accepting such an obligation.

This is similar to the prohibition against molesting faes.
While destroying a single fae or demon is no problem usually, the real danger is to bring the hostile attention of Faerie, or the attention of Hell, to the Order.

If you began killing left and right subjects of the Faerie King, you'll bring his enmity upon your sodales. The same thing goes with demons: The goal is to be forgotten by them, not attract Hell's attention through a series of demon annihilation.

In fact, the same thing could be said about Faerie, Hell and the Divine: Everything is fine, so long as you don't bring ruin to your sodales. Thus, minimal interaction should be the rule.

Kill an angel, kill a demon, 's'all good. Just don't piss one off! :laughing:

For some reason I'm reminded of an unofficial rule for folks in the demolitions field - never handle less explosives than will kill you outright - you don't want to cripple yerself, do ya? 8)

It is quite dubious and debatable that the faerie creatures would indeed form a unified and hierarchical nation, as opposed to a disorganized set of individuals and local tribal groups. IIRC no treatament of faerie in ArM has depicted them as a whole any more organized than magical creatures. As a matter of fact, 5th ed. products does hint that faerie are essentially anarchical, just like infernal and magical beings, and that Divine creatures are the only truly organized supernatural race.

I find your ruling satisfactory. I am convinced that applying to magical creatures the same standard of faerie beings would be the best choice: occasional hunting isolated creatures for vis or experimentation is one thing, standard policy for any magus, provoking wiespread hostility of powerful individual magical or faerie beings or whole groups would be heavily frowned upon. Since I do not believe faeries are nay more organized as a race than magical beings, I think the same standard would be adequate.

Hmm, I am not sure I understand your purpose wholly. Do you suggest "I shall not suffer myself to serve the mundanes, and thereby harm the peace and dignity of my sodales", and leaving the prohibition against excessive involvement which causes troubles for the Order in the general endangerment clausle ?

I understand your concerns, and they have merit. Therefore, what about a prohibition against actively harming magical knowledge and sources of vis, and against interfering with the efforts of other mages to protect them ? Would it be acceptable for the average magus ?

Something like "I will not harm magical resources, and thereby cause my sodales to be diminished by their loss. I will not hamper the efforts of my sodales to protect sources of magic and faerie, if they do not endanger the Order".

Not a personal obligation to protect, but a prohibition to destroy what other magus may find useful, and an obligation of non-interference if another magus chooses to go militant to protect magical or faerie sites.

I'd include some provision about certamen in the oath.

I'd concur. I'll try: "I will respect certamen as a peaceful resolution of disputes with my sodales and abide by its results. I will not use certamen to violate the laws of the Order".

Alternatively, one could drop the latter provision and state that a magus will respect "legal" or "properly used" certamen, if one wants to keep the language of the clausle as broad and succinct as possible. What do you think ?

No, not really.

It is a principal of law that everything in a contract is there for a reason. Likewise, anything in the Code is there for a reason. Compare
"I will not deprive nor attempt to deprive any member of the Order of his magical power."
"Nor will I interfere with the affairs of mundanes and thereby bring ruin on my sodales."
and with
"I will not deal with devils, lest I imperil my soul and the souls of my sodales as well."
The first is an encompassing, universal prohibition - i will not deprive any member of the Order of his magical power, period. The second is weakened by a "thereby" - if the interfering does not bring ruin to my sodales, I haven't really broken the Code, have I? The third is weakened by a "lest I imperil", a vague fear, a much weaker restriction - even if nothing bad happened, have I really not imperiled the souls of myself or my sodales? Even if I didn't this time, isn't the fear that I will a "lest" consideration that should prevent me from dealing with demons? (Unlike a "and thereby bring ruin", which is more concrete.)

My suggestion is to leave the prohibition against serving mundanes as a universal prohibition, without any caveat. The clause against messing with mundanes is restricted by a "thereby harm..." clause, which might be serve as a defense ("Yes, you could say that's interference, but clearly this isn't what the Founders had in mind, since it does nothing to harm the peace or dignity of magi! On the contrary, it bolsters our Order's reputation and status!").

Upon reading the Guardians of the Forest resolution, I stand corrected - the resolution is very vague, but says stuff like "We must become Guardians of the Forest" and "we must resolve that the same shall not happen to us".

At any rate, I could agree with the main line of your suggestion except to the extent that it includes faeires. I would suggest the following phrasing:

"I shall not destroy the well-springs of magic, and thereby cause my sodales to be diminished by their loss. I will not hamper the efforts of my sodales to protect sources of magic, if they do not endanger the Order".

Yes, this finds my full agreement, but I was unsure of your intent, whether to keep the clausle against messing with mundanes, or not. If I understand your suggestion correctly, you argue for something like:

"I will not serve mundanes. I will not mess with the affairs of mundanes, and thereby harm the peace or dignity of my sodales".

Note the change from "interfering" to "messing", which would allow much more scope for careful, well-applied interaction.

I had included faeries since at one point of the Guardians of the Forest resolution, it says the decline of Magic and Faerie must not be allowed, and since it is a well-known fact that faerie sites are just as precious vis sources as magical areas, and, to a lesser degree, almost as useful covenant locations. Hence, such a resolution must protect faerie areas as well.