Any idea on legal proposition on tribunal?

Hi sodales,

Do you have any ideas on what would be good ideas for legal amendments to the peripheral code of the Provençal tribunal?

I lack the inspiration to find such thing, apart the one I already started in the previous tribunal which consist of a sort of "tax" for each covenant, to ensure that if another covenant is destroyed by the mundanes during their (silly) war and crusades, the tribunal will have the funds to rebuild it. That idea was started by Ostal des Exilés covenant, and already found a consensus to accept the principle... the concrete manner to do it, what to pay, and who will keep the count are still in discussion.

Thank you for any idea you may give :slight_smile:.

As I understand it, Provencal tribunal is supposed to be the 'default vanilla' tribunal, and so any such ammendments would be... counter to the whole point.
Not that you shouldn't have some in your saga if you like, but it's sort of not what that tribunal is for I think. :-/

I think you are essentially looking for things to legislate by Tribunal. Correct me if I'm wrong.

That isn't how Tribunals work, so far as I understand. Tribunals can back issues and discuss how to go about performing a communal act legally, but they do not look at an existing part of Code and say "Now we will enforce this differently."

For projects a Tribunal might back, though:

Surveying a network of leaping-points for magi to use Seven League's Stride, and making the spell available to everyone who wants it.

Inspecting ruined covenants, to be sure they are unoccupied by magi, and that their grounds, books, and other artifacts are absent or harmless.

Forming a diplomatic mission to mortals or Faerie, or to some magical being or community, to negotiate a specific treaty.

Backing an effort to colonize Africa, by funding, supplying, populating, and recruiting both elder and novice magi. (Appropriate for Iberia, Provence, Rome, Thebes, and Levant - for similar to Thule, the Tribunals of Novgorod, Rhine, Normandy, Stonehenge, and Loch Leglean.)

Dividing the Provencal Tribunal into the Tribunals of Provencal and the Pyrenees and the details of this division.

Then, of course, there is the matter of finding interested volunteers and how to fund a project. Most projects probably don't come to Tribunal without considerable pre-planning and committed votes.

Further limit or variation to the limit of conjured goods as they affect Mundane commerce and inflation?

Legal issues between tribunal members, particularly as they can serve only to introduce new story seeds or NPCs. eg. Magus Xan is noted as penalised for restricting Magus Yan's magical power through (insert seed maguffin).

Adjustment to the rights or formalisation of the voting rights of Redcaps.

Establish a framework for Code-acceptable trade in magic with beings outside the Order (probably by regularizing the informal trade via companions already underway).

Actually, formalize the position of companions relative to magi. I don't think there's much Code on this... hmmm...

Of course, if you really want to impact the Code, consult the quaesitors, do something in a loophole of the Code, report yourself to Tribunal, and sway the assembled magi to vote your way. Poof! Precedent established. Problem: you may get fined or dead.

Hi. It is exactly that. I do not agree for the second part, because from the Greek tribunal, I retained that : The Legislative Board is responsible for reviewing and revising the Peripheral Code of the Theban Tribunal. Any polites can apply to the board for a change in the Peripheral Code. The application must be accompanied by an alternative to the current Code ruling; a ruling cannot simply be repealed.

And then there is a little step for any law to create an artificial case just to enforce a rule. So it would not be unthinkable that a tribunal decide to amend the peripheral code (= we do it because it's logical in our saga and at least three of us have a background of law studies and love discussing rules and their exploits - and I don't even bring the ars magica rules themselves on the table ^^).

Since the peripheral code can amend the code in that region (such as the peripheral code of Greece let magi expel one every 7 years without anything in the code about it), I intend the players to have legal matters to think about... and of course, some of them will have to vote in a way to make their savior from a previous accusation happy while maintening unity...

Certainly, at the start of a saga. But ingame, a tribunal cannot remain "vanilla" without destroying the verisimilitude of the game actions (is that even a word. Checking... yes!).
Our saga will at the next tribunal be 36 years in, 14 from the time the magi joined the Provençal tribunal coming from the Rhine.

Compared to the weakness and febrility of most published NPCs, it is clear that our magi are in the "elder" magi categories and their number starts making weight (7 magi, soon +3 apprentices becoming magi).

The players did make change in the tribunal, and the most influencal covenants of the Provençal need to use them in the three sided statu quo which will end one way or another. They are now in league with Castra Solis to secretly spy on the Coenobium, and in league with the Coenobium to secretly prevent the feud between Castra Solis and Aedess Mercurii to ever end... at least until the next grand tribunal of 1261 iirc.
And Aedes Mercurii members tried to have most of the magi Marched when they almost destroyed aFrench army during the rebellion of the provençal lords. That's why they got supports in the first place by bargaining with Castra Solis and the Coenobium.

So you know, the vanilla thing is nice and smooth, but not anymore. Now players want to have impact, and I want them to feel that what they gave away to remain alive is not without weight.

Thanks for the ideas.

Even if it doesn't match my intention with this thread, that clearly is good ideas for the 7 years service of the punished PC magi dueto the provençal tribunal during the 49 next years (7 next tribunals). You wouldn't believe how your 2d and 3d idea are rightly themed for my saga. (Because the players DID impose a statu quo between Winter and Summer in Arcadian Courts of Season with the help of an archmaga of Loch Leglean, and because they have found a portal to the reversed center of the magic realm I created, which was first found by the founder of a now destructed covenant...

This is especially interesting. As I recall, redcaps normally abstain from vote, as do Mercere magi.

I like those 3, especially the second one. That is really an interesting matter. I have to further think about it.
The last one is something I intend to use using the fact that there is only one guernicus, in the "Castra Solis" faction, etc. I still need to think of the loophole to exploit (because I have cunning players and am not the alphastory guide so some things are out of the picture because ASG already decided his way).

I always like the idea that "the Tribunal" doesn't actually want or do anything: the individual magi do.

So the actions at a Tribunal are driven by character drives (PC and NPC)...

  • Who is charged with a crime? Who is under investigation? Who are their allies ... and their enemies?

  • Who wants to do something "problematic," possibly code-violating, that could get pre-blessed at Tribunal (and thus not so likely to violate the Code)?

  • What are the agendas of each individual Covenant (those that are cohesive enough to unite behind a push at Tribunal)?

I don't usually expect to RP a Tribunal in a campaign until/unless the PC's are advanced/strong/etc enough to be acting in ways that they care about what "the Tribunal" thinks.

The exception, of course, are Tribunal-wide threats, things that many magi see as threatening to them, personally. In the far East, the arrival of the Golden Horde; in the far North, persistent rumors of scandinavian rune-wizards; the Infernal, anywhere it crops up; the growing Dominion and shrinking Magic Auras; etc...

Steve, of course tribunals do not want things.
It was a shortcut.

What I mean, when you have 3 covenants of the same size, with 2 of them antagonists for centuries, they will want to passe measure but be blocked by the other side (as in politics). But since in tribunals, "neutral parties" would not want to decisively decide a side, to avoid being antagonised by the others big covenants, the PCs really DO have an impact, because the PCs, being PCs, will break statu quo, knowingly or not.

And that's what the game is about.

If the PCs were average magi, we would play another game or let the NPCs deal with the threats we invent. They would just write to their local quaesitor "dear sodalis. I believe XX is doing bad stuff. Please investigate." and never check themselves.

I guess that I wasn't being clear... sorry!

My point was that the Saga itself, the in-character (PC/NPC motivations) will drive what happens at Tribunal:

  • Those centuries-old rivals? Yeah, you gotta know that ALL their dirty laundry will be on display at Tribunal... Each area where they're rivalrous will be an area where they press for advantage (and/or fend off advances by the other); where they're forced to work together, they'll be jockeying for the whip hand; etc.

  • That infamous Quaesitor whose nose is in EVERYONE'S business, however innocuous? Yeah, SHE seems to have FINALLY found a serious problem to present.

  • Those magi you "bumped into" (and everyone went carefully on their separate ways) 3 adventures ago... are now at Tribunal claiming YOU VIOLATED THE CODE !

  • etc

That is to say, NOTHING will happen at Tribunal that isn't driven by prior events of the Saga and/or the existing PC/NPC drives.

YMMV, but if my players want to sometimes run "at Tribunal" stories, I front-load my Saga with the sorts of long-term efforts that the driving PC's (or their rivals) need to raise at Tribunal... and then that's what Tribunal is about. I don't create stuff ab initio FOR Tribunal... If that makes sense?

Using Thebes as an example of how a Tribunal works is not a good idea. The Theban Tribunal is an expressly nonstandard Tribunal, and they do things the Theban way, which has very little to do with how everyone else does things. They run on a system based on civil law, while the rest of the Order's Peripheral Code is decided by case law and precedent - i.e common law. Hence, Thebes has laws, the rest of the Order has rulings.

If Thebes can have legal propositions, which are not contradicted by the Code, then other tribunals do (I remember distinctly the Normandy having one). Thebes is also bound to the Code and the Grand Tribunal.
We agree that at start of a saga, Provence is vanilla in the sense of players do not need to know additional rule: the code suffice. But players being statu-quo breakers they are, and being obligated to 2 factions, they will break it. That's why I accepted their call to NPCs to save their asses which were wiped after a flagrant display of magic breaking mundane King armies during the Provençal rebellion. The Code would have had them dead but that would have been uninteresting. Killing the famliar of the magi who had one didn't provide any sense of consequence in those who had not.

From the moment magi agree on a topic, there is nothing in the code to prevent that for happeningas official ruling. And there is little reason for magi of Provence to remain in the outdated "vanilla" code version of the Order. Because laws are alive, and even if reality always comes hard on laws demonstrating their flaws and never their merits, it would be worst to not rule at all.
Call it rules or law, as long as it is enforced by the peripheral code and can bring matter in front of the assembly of peers which is the tribunal, with his political weight, then it is okay.

(Big covenant are always interesting because when they face"legal" problem at tribunal, they can just draw the magical raw power. Declaring wizard's war on the "leaders" is not a good idea, but on their followers of less importance, it is; ensure that it takes place during the month of tribunal, and tada, the accuser only have the minority to vote. Especially if PCs are on your side because of a previous affair. And when Castra Solis and Aedes Mercurii are obligated to hate each other, Coenobium acts to ensure they keep doing it for a long time... because that allow it to grow in power undetected.
In terms of vote, I remember something as 20 for every big covenant in our saga, and alredy 8 for the Pcs, with most minor covenants never voting when not morally obligated because they do not want to take sides. That is those who attend tribunal: Ostal, Ara Maxima Nova, Bellaquin, Stella Durus. Ostal is a compromise and already used that neutrality to pass a rule which needs to be pproved - and hope that it is not abused - Ara is too weak to sustain any wrath, Bellaquin is the business partner of each big covenant t some point and do not want to anger a partner, and Stella Durus is a covenant of researchers. Jardin, Miniata Sophia and all others covenants I forget to quote do not attend tribunal.)

PCs being Pcs, they are the one who try to get those little covenant to take their side on any issue they etimate as importante... hence the need to provide those ideas of topics, for which the players may decide, or not, to involve their covenant in politics. But I cannot just introduce "saga themed issue" because it would be too obvious and of course they would involve themselve. But what if there are 20 proposals? they will need to decide which to invest in and take time for.

Steve, I understand, but here is an explanation more detailled on why I asked what I ask: in the saga I'm running, the whole Order and world-organisation are the stakes of the conflict, but even the PCs are not yet able to identify the threat. They believe to have found the "great enemy" but do not know how it can be stopped, because they are at the point where they realise it's maybe a Kosmokrator (or Protagonoi because they are not experts) whose powers cover/encompasses the theme of rebirth.
Besides that "grand theme", other, more little, causes have big impacts, much later. (For example, one thing which happen will only have impact in 1400+ but it is already "on its way").
And I wanted - and still want, to show that something they discuss now, may have consequence much later. But to hide the matter, I need to have a lot of other demands to conceal the real saga-themed matter.

Because there are not "one issue". In my who-is-who and who-does-what files, I have already have introduced more than 500 characters, antagonists between them or factions, etc. For a simple non spoiling example (because some of the players read this so I'm obligated to explain in their view what is up even if as a SG i know they are wrong [don't be sad]), the Suhhar Sulayman: when first met, they thought it was 1 faction, neutral to the order. Then they learnt that there was 2: the traditionalists and the rebels. Now they have clues that there may be 3 factions: the rebels, the progressists and the "in waiting" ones. Among the rebels - who pledge the War with the order, using every tool available -, they have personal enemies, but they also have personal enemies in the progressists who want to join the Order of Hermes, do a 13th house, include all of their 10.000 friends, and rework the Order in a sahir-like centered organisation. In fact, they find the progressists more dangerous than the rebel. The "great enemy" uses each of the 3 factions, but with totally different goals but in the factions itself, some do not follow the "line of conduct".) Since Provence being Provence, they did take part in the 7th crusade which happily did involve an official truce with the suhhar. The players do know why (or almost by who) this happened, and do know it lasted long enough to cover the defeat of the Crusaders. [To be honest, I had prepared a scenario where history would change a lot with the Crusade totally succeeding and Egypt and those lands becoming christians, and the players releashed an undying which destroyed the tools of that victory for the crusaders... they didn't do that on purpose, but whatever.]
They could decide to send a covenant or representative to take a formal approach and then, if making progress, use that during the grand tribunal of 1261 to make the Order decide a more formal thing (as will the Levant tribunal do with the Hermetic Ambassy at Bagdad)... but Provence do not know yet.

Another example: another player has done the part where the Order protect Transylvania from the Mongol threat. Novgorod has been majorly destroyed, most covenants destroyed and magi dead. In opposition, Transylvania suffered massive protection with magical powers. Now I could imagine a proposal being to have the Provence tribunal urge for the creation of massive invested devices able to create a big wall like the great wall of china. I do not say it is a good idea, nor it is legal, but the catch is that even "bad" proposal may find appeal in the Tribunal or among the Pcs. And that's what I want: something for the PC to believe in, be it something related to magic or organisation.

At the end, even with the stakes being resolved, the life of magi will continue (or not) and they will think and feel for themselves, being selfish and not united. Because that's human (suffice to say: watch any newsreport) and that makes the magi (Npc and Pc together) more credible. They will fight about laws even wrong or good for "the greater good" because that is or not good for themselves first. But for that, I need more inspiration on what magi would want. Because in that matter, my imagination will not go far (my own PC is the most labrat of all of them and only had one proposition : erase the 2pounds/magus which is "order-whole" done, and was rejected loudly. -obviously, it would have allowed him to spend the million of gemstones he lastly created to pay for covenants goods...) because apart from what I need for the saga, I'm not really into.

That's the same reason as for why I use this forum to find "judiciary cases" to display at tribunal, to force the players to roleplay what they believe to be a right decision. (Thanks at the authors of various 30days november thing who covered the judiciary issues already :slight_smile: ).

When I am in such situation - Ars Magica or other games - and since my time is finite, I involved the players and I put on them the responsability to come with idea to move the plot.
So I would pitch it like that:
"Okay, there are X covenants in this Tribunal. You want support from some of them to pass your proposal/not judge your guilty/etc.
You need to come with a proposal that this covenant wants to pass in exchange for supporting you."

That way, you don't need to obfuscate the real topic, because anyway the players will only focus on what interest them and it will be the proposal of each covenant. Then you only have to mention that there is many other proposal, but your mages are too busy to take care of their business to pay attention to the other points.

Players becomes more involve in the Saga, will remember more all this information, and it lighten you workload. If players have no idea or do not want to make the effort, then said covenant does not want anything that the players have to offer and no support will be gained from them.

Mechanically, you can assign a "weight" value for each of this proposal or each covenant and players need to achieve a given total to have their proposal pass. Usually, the more weight, the more difficult it is to perform, but it is up to you. Difficulty can be simply the difficulty rating for appropriate skill test, but it can also be payment in silver, virtus, knowledge.
And don't bother to be tricky and hide those value, be transparent about the weight that each covenant can "pull", how difficult it can be and let them try to optimise as they want.

Alternatively, you could abstract this part of the adventure:

  • Let them know that each time they approach a covenant to get their support they will get it – all the time, no exception.
  • What they have to negotiate is the price to pay to have their support – once they decide to ask for a support, they have to pay the price, they cannot roll the dice and decide not to have their support. It is the tradeoff for not having to roll to get their support, you have it automatically, but maybe the price will be high to pay.
  • Set the difficulty challenge and let them use any political skills that seem appropriate (Intrigue, Folk ken, Hermes Lore, Canon Law, etc…)
  • The difficulty can be set according to the relationship they had in the past and weight the covenant can provide.
  • Once their negotiations are completed, they have one last opportunity to drop the whole thing – if they realize that the price was too high. But they cannot reject some covenants and keep others: it’s all or nothing.
  • Be transparent from the beginning, so they cannot complain afterwards. The purpose is not to trick the players in a situation they don't want: It is a frequent movie trope: under duress, or because a character wants to succeed at any costs, he accepts whatever deals and will handle later the consequence. Be clear about it. In real life, you rarely have all the information at the right moment to make the best choice. And in some case, the best choice might not be so great.

Let the tribunal go by, hoping that the PCs managed to secure enough support to have their proposition pass.

Then, a few seasons later (or a few years), time to repay the favour. At this stage, it is important to consider than the PCs agreed to pay the price and did what was requested from them – they did not realize that it would put them in such difficult situation or they did not care. Time to foot the bill…
So you define what the covenant wanted to have as favour and you narrate what the PCs did to repay the debt - it cannot be completely against their character as they would have rejected the price, but it might have been performed by another mage, a companion or a group of grogs. It is narrated by you, so the players cannot act, it is only a flashback or a montage of various actions that they took to keep their end of the bargain.
And now they have to live with the consequence(s)…

The quality of their success will determine what they had to pay to get the support:

  • Excellent success (exceed by more than 5): nothing compromising, some silver, virtus and or knowledge, some discreet support for their initiative. Basically, they will be no consequence from this alliance.
  • Success: the PCs have to be quite demonstrative in their support. Opponent to the covenant they were seeking support from will resent them. Future interactions will be strained, but the PCs are not standing out as very vocal in their support.
  • Failure: the PCs have to provide a strong support, including some dubious behavior which could attract Quaesitors’attention – only breach of the peripherical code. Once exposed, it is clear that the PCs are strong allies to the other covenant. They will be considered as enemy by opponent.
  • Botch: the PCs agreed to perform some really shady tasks, which could cost them a lot if exposed. They will be blackmailed, possibly even by the covenant who agreed to support them (in for a penny, in for a pound). The PCs might look like the leader of the movement, whereas the other covenant is only a supporter. Quaesitors’ shenanigans to be expected.
    So after narrating what they did, the adventure can resume: a delegation of quaesitor is knocking at the door, a Mercere present them with a Wizard’s war declaration, etc.

This approach might surprise your players because they might feel robbed of their freedom of choice, just remind them that they had a choice when they selected which support they wanted and agreed to proceed despite the potential backlash.

The advantage of this approach is that it simplifies your workload tremendously:

  • You will only have to invent legal proposition for the covenant where the PCs failed their negotiation
  • You can decide whenever you want this story seed to pop, it gives you time to prepare – it is a great tool to force an adventure on PCs, they have to deal with the consequence. Full stop.
  • You don’t waste time of dozen of proposals and focus only on what matters.

If the players says that they would have never agreed to do XYZ, you can say that:

  • They did not realize the consequence of their act
  • They planned to do one thing, but the circumstances made them change on the fly, with unexpected consequence
  • Maybe they were set up and what was looking innocuous triggered a cascade of reactions leading to them having to face the consequence of their act.