Auction at Tribunal

So, consider the following situation. You are a young spring covenant and you are sending a representative to tribunal. At the tribunal, there will be an auction of some goods that have been seized from a magus in payment of debt. To simplify the bidding, the tribunal has decreed that all bids must be with Vim vis. Your covenant has 10 pawns of vim vis available for bidding, you also have 6 pawns of Aquam vis that the Redcaps will trade at a three to one ratio and 5 pawns of Corpus vis that can be traded for Vim vis at a one to one ratio.
The items that will be auctioned, and the order they will be auctioned is below

  1. One silver necklace with amber and red coral stones which has been opened for enchantment and has a capacity of 12. The Verditius magus who opened the item has a Philosophae of 6, so any effects enchanted into the item get a +6 to the lab total , limited by Magic Theory. It also has the following Shape and Material Bonuses, again, with the total bonus including Philosophae limited by Magic Theory
    Amber: +3 Corpus
    Amber: +3 controlling movement
    Jewelry: +2 move self
    Jewelry: +4 protect self
    Jewelry: +4 transform self
    Necklace: +4 bonus to effect speaking and breathing
    Red coral: +10 vs demons
    Silver: +1 terram
    Silver: +1 wisdom
    Silver: +2 intellego
    Silver: +3 protect spirits
    Silver: +5 lycanthropes
    Silver:+10 harm lycanthropes

  2. A L6, Q21 summae on Rego

  3. The following lab texts, which were invented by a Bonisangus magi (Ninkas) who was trying to develop Deft Form as a teachable virtue. She had a Minor Magical focus in Ale and a focus in Aquam, so the spells she focused on had to do with ale. The following spells were invented to not use either words or gestures.
    a. L25 CrAq Ninkas Gift. Fills barrel with ale. Base 2, +1 touch, +3 Sun, +3 for not using words or gestures
    b. L25 MuAq with He requsite Ninkas Power of Oak, Turns aie into dead oak wood in whatever shape the ale was previously. Base 4, +1 touch, +2 Sun, +2 no verbal components
    c. L25 MuAq with Te requisite Ninkas Power of Iron, Turns ale into iron, in whatever shape the ale was when it was transformed. Base 4, +1 touch, +2 Sun, +2 no verbal components
    d. L25 MuAq with Te requisite Ninkas Power of Silver, Turns ale into silver, in whatever shape the ale was when it was transformed. Base 4, +1 touch, +2 Sun, +2 no verbal components
    e. L25 ReAq Control the Blessings of Ninkas, Allows the spellcaster to manipulate ale into whatever shape he or she wishes, Base 4, +1 touch, +1 Concentration, +1 for no gestures, +2 for unnatural.

  4. A lab text for the L10 ReHe spell Repel the Wooden Shafts and two Q12 tractus on spell mastery of that spell

  5. The Debt of Friendship wand, L65 CrMe effect, charged item, with three charges left. Creates a memory in the targets mind of the user having done them a great favor and a sense of gratitude towards them. Causes warping in the target as a powerful mystical effect Base 5, +3 Sight, +3 Moon, +1 intricate effect, +25 for +50 penetration.

  6. 3 Rods of Demon Repulsion. L80 ReViCharged item, (one charge per rod) creates a Circular Ward Vs Demons with L50 level, +60 penetration. (It may seem that the +60 vs +50 penetration is overkill, but demons would receive a bonus to magic resistance in infernal auras, and this is an attempt to overcome this) Each rod will be auctioned separately.

So, given the above, what instructions would you give to your covenants representative on how to bid, and on which items?

Without more context on 'my' covenant or the personages there of I'm liable to put several of the available items on the 'not worth it' list as our resources are limited and as a group we could not necessarily aid the covenant as a group.

So I'd recommend passing on the silver necklace (1), Ninkas's Folio (3) and the Repel the Wooden Shafts texts (4). In the first case we are unlikely to be able to make full use of the item and it is best suited to being a talisman with a list of Shape/Material bonuses that long anyway. As far as Ninkas's Folio is concerned, aside being very careful not to let 3 (a) known to the Grogs, the rest are just too niche for a generic spring covenant. I is hard to imagine that no-one at the covenant could create a lab text for L10 ReHe spell and unless we are intending on having arrows loosed in your direction often, you won't need that mastery... (YMMV, Tytali & Flambeau would feel differently)

As for things I would attempt to bid on; the Rego Suma (2) would be a sound investment for a spring covenant [odds are good you would have at least 1 magi who could benefit from reading it for several seasons, and most could for at least a single season). For a completely different reasons, the Rods of Demon Repulsion (6) would earn a few bids from me; it is simply too good to pass up and too powerful for the covenant to attempt any time soon.

Depending on available funds and personal circumstances, I might be persuaded to bid on the Wand (4). The limited remaining charges combined with the post-effect damage to the relationships makes it a risky option.

Without context, it is hard to judge.

  1. Vis-wise, the necklace is worth at least 12 pawns, plus the season of work to open it, so 16-18 pawns. It will only be useful once instilled with effect (requiring more virtus and the adequate Art levels). Unless the spring covenant can have it at a bargain price, it won't be able to leverage its full potential before a while. It can be a very nice gift from a old master to his freshly gauntleted apprentice - specialised in fighting or at least in need of protection.

  2. It is the definition of a root I believe. Highly sought book by Spring covenant, that can be "rented" for a pawn of vis through the Mercere network. If the covenant can have it for 5 pawns or less, it can benefit some member of the covenant, then repay itself by lending it for a pawn to neighbouring covenant. Probably the most generic and useful item of the list.

  3. Very limited interest if it does not grant you research point towards the integration or the breakthrough and if you don't intend to complete the work and. So the value can range from 0, to quite high if it is worth 25 research point to integrate Deft Aquam in the hermetic theory, or to acquire it for yourself if not ready for integration. It really depends if there is an Aquam specialist or not in the covenant.
    The spells themselves are fun, but of very limited use. If it was water, it would be a bit more versatile.

  4. Very narrow application. Baring specific virtue, it will only save you one season to acquire a double mastery (normal rule, you get 5Xp towards mastery per season, so 15 xp for 2 mastery in 3 seasons; reading the tractati will earn you 24 xp, worth 2 mastery level and 9 xp left to spare - so a third season of study won't allow you to get a third level mastery). Probably not worth more than a pawn.

  5. Dangerous to use against mundane (especially considering that everybody in the tribunal will know who has it), but used carefully can really help a young spring covenant to smooth relationship with the local mundane power. Can be used against all kind of supernatural entities (even magi) thanks to the high Penetration. Usefull for any covenant type really. Quaesitores will keep an eye on who won the bidding. The smart move would be to get it through a third party, so it cannot be traced back to you (paying a couple of pawns a Redcap to bet on it on your behalf for example). It requires a labtot of at least 76 in CrMe to recreate such item, baring an optimised specialist (redudant, I know), a Spring covenant is unlikely to be able to recreate such item (assuming magi fresh out of gauntlet). It is a one season work, so it can be ordered to a Verditius magus, who will charge 4-8 pawns I believe for a season of work (I give a large range as it is very saga depend on the virtus availability). Thus, don't bet more than what you could pay for a new one, that would be bought much more discreetly. Of course, people needing it desperately will be bid more, which should raise suspicion. If you can get it for 3 pawns, plus a couple extra if you use a third party to buy it, that's a fair deal, more than that, it becomes very situational.

  6. Very situational. If a Spring covenant already expect to have to handle demonic threat requiring this kind of protection, I would suggest to use the pawns to relocate instead of betting on this item :mrgreen: . If there is already a story in progress involving a demon, then the value becomes a cost/reward analysis: what will be the return or payback for the Spring covenant if they manage to succesfully use this item versus how much did it cost them - will the get reward in virtus, favour, money, rights to settle, etc...
    It could be a nice McGuffin to conclude a story where the Spring covenant is facing a powerful demon. And assuming that they manage to imprison him, are they going to be his wardens ? It has the potential to be the foundation of a Spring covenant.

Without more information on the covenant situation, I would bid on:
2) because it can repay for itself and will likely be usefuly by at least of couple of magi in the covenant.
5) no more than 5 pawns total (to have it without being link to it)

  1. if you can get it at discount (4-5 pawns) to try to resell it to another far away covenant who could not participate to the bidding.

The other... it depends.

With L6 Q21, almost no-one would benefit from reading it more than once, since 21 XPs take you directly to L6 in an Art.
Still not a bad book though, unless everyone in your covenant is well grounded in Rego.

If an L6Q21 summa on Rego exists, then it's a Root and you can get it for a pawn of vis.


  1. If you have a magus who can finish the item, it can be lent to whatever magus needs protection while on covenant business. Or even a companion. A completed item can potentially be sold for a great return on investment, to the right customer. Worth considering. Not a short term return, but if you have the time and resources, potentially great in the medium term.

  2. 1 pawn, as previously stated.

  3. Very limited utility, unless you have a magus who really cares. Or local faeries or others who would be particularly impressed by this sort of thing. Otherwise, not worth a pawn.

  4. If only it were a better spell! Do your magi want this? Maybe 1 pawn.

  5. If you need this, you know it and you know what it's worth to you. Otherwise, a token bid just in case: It never hurts to have a Big Effect saved for a rainy day. Bear in mind that the kinds of being that require +50 penetration are also the ones most likely to figure out what happened after the effect wears off, and be very displeased with you.

  6. Do you need this?

Instructions: Hunt for bargains, unless you have a real need for something. Feel free not to spend any vis on anything. It might be worth making a deal with other bidders to share 2+3+4 to keep the prices ludicrously low. "1 pawn for lots 2+3+4, and we'll let anyone in the Tribunal use the texts," is a great opening bid.



..Yep, you are right; I am just so use to having to write up Ability Summa I forgot the aggregate cost of raising an Art to 6. 21 is a heck of a lot less than the 105 to require for raising an Ability to 6.

It should be, but I doubt a Root would be put up for auction.

So, my thoughts on this auction and peoples comments. First, all of these items were taken from Ninkas Isle, a covenant I created to explore the Extremely Complex Character Advancement rules. I wanted to see how an organically built winter covenant would look like. It is about 115 years in, one of the four original magi has gone into final twilight, but the coventant still seem

  1. The necklace. Personally, I almost think of this as a trap. As best I can tell, you want to enchant greater enchanted items in one of two situations, you don’t have the lab totals needed to put the enchantment in a single season or you want to have enchantment effects interacting. Otherwise, lesser enchanted items are the way to go, you use less vis and you can split up the effects, if you have one ring that can turn you invisible, a second ring that creates an illusion of a stone wall a third ring that can create real stone walls and a fourth ring that creates an illusion of walking, talking person who interacts with the environment, you have more flexibility than if the spell effects are all in the same item, as you can have one person with the some items in one location and another person with the rest of the items in another location.

If you spend all or almost all your vis buying the necklace, what vis are you going to use to put spell effects into the necklace?

Now, if you also believe that the magi at a spring covenant do not have the Magic Theory score to take full advantage of the bonuses to enchant in such an object, you have to believe that this is more of summer or later item. In which case, do you want to appear to be bidding up the price of an item that the older, more powerful covenants want?

Note, while the necklace had 12 open spaces, Hamspat has a Craft: Silversmith of 9+2 with a specialty in jewelry. Thus, he only used one pawn of Vim Vis to open the necklace.

  1. The primer, lab texts and tractus on spell mastery. In my mind, when I was setting up this question, I was thinking of a magi who had been found guilty at tribunal of something, fined, and when he didn’t have the vis, he agreed to turn over his magical goods as payment of the fine. Proceeds of the auction go to the Tribunal to pay expenses. That is why everything has to be in Vimvis, it is not because that is they type of vis needed, it is to keep there from being arguments about whether 3 pawns of Creo and 4 pawns of Aquam is more or less valuable than 7 pawns of Corpus.

So, on the one hand, conspiring within the tribunal to keep the bid low seems like it is against the Tribunal interest. On the other hand, paying a pawn of vis to manage these texts on behalf of the tribunal seems overly generous. Agreeing to do it for free is probably the furthest I would want go.

Anyway, as to the primer being a Root…I find the fact that we know that there are 9 Roots but we don’t know which Arts have Roots frustrating. Also, not knowing if a root is L5,Q15 or L6 Q21 or even L7, Q28 . Ninkas Isle has a primer on every Art, all written by the covenant magi. So, by definition, they are not Roots, though they may be of equal quality to Roots. I accept that without knowing whether a Root exists for Rego, it is hard to estimate the value of the primer.

As to the ale spells having research points. Ninkas had about 23 research points before she went into FinalTwilight, only two of the spells offered here were associated with successful research (Ninkas Power of Silver and Ninkas Power of Oak) However, these lab texts were copied out to be comprehensible, which I assume strips them of their research potential.

As to the tractus on casting Repel the Wooden Shafts. Not counting the season spent learning the spell, if you have Book Learner, it gets you to level three spell mastery in two seasons, and if you have Flawless Magic, it gets you to L4 in two seasons, (24*2+5=53) If you have neither, it gets you to level 2 in two seasons rather than 3, or level 3 in three seasons and 1 Adventure XP rather than six, (and obviously, if you need level 3 spell mastery in Repel the Wooden Shafts, you are getting plenty of Adventure XP)

  1. So the charged items. I think people are forgetting that once you invent a charged item, every season you spend subsequently gets you Lab Total/5 round up charges. So if Cornelius has a CrMe lab total of 65, the first season he gets one charge in the wand, but the next season, he gets a wand with 13 charges, or three wands with 3 charges and one with 4 charges.

The primary reason I started this thread was I was curious what people would be willing to pay for high power charged items, and I wanted to hide the question in a more general one. If Lucian can create 16 Rods of Demon Warding in a season and he can get a pawn of vis per Rod, it may be a good deal for him. Sadly, it seems that no one is really interested in such Rods, while the Wands of Friendship have more of a market.

One thing that occurs to me is that books sized and auctioned will not be covered by cow and calf, so I would focus on these as they can not only benefit the covenant directly but also be a vis source with some competent scribes.

A ring-ward against demons isn't really what I'd want out of a charged item. That's the sort of effect I'd rather be able to cast repeatedly.

Charged items with powerful combat or teleportation spells would be more appealing. If you just want it as a panic button, a single use is almost as good as unlimited uses.

Plan to share it?

What a strange idea. If the original author was not being the one sanctioned, I don't see why Cow and Calf would stop applying just because one of his customers misbehaved.

Agreed; Even if the author was the one being sanctioned, his heirs or parens may wish to claim the rights, which I imagine would end up being a case in the tribunal.

As has been stated, the answer could vary wildly depending on context. This is what the magi of our current spring covenant (moderately well-off, but not extravagantly rich, in vis) would bid.

  1. 1 pawn. A niche object, not immediately useful, but who knows. There's a chance it could be used as a gift or traded for a handful of pawns later on.
  2. 1 pawn if it is a Rego root (or there is a similar Rego root) and the book is a "calf", 12+ pawns if the book is a "cow" and there is no other comparable book widely available. (Immediately useful to just 1 maga in the covenant).
  3. 0 pawns. Too niche to be of any reasonable use in the foreseeable future.
  4. 0 pawns. Too niche to be of any reasonable use in the foreseeable future.
  5. 2-4 pawns depending on how much vis is otherwise available. The covenant would not have a specific use for the item in the immediate future, but it would be a versatile and very useful resource to have as a backup.
  6. 1-2 pawns for 1 rod depending on how much vis is otherwise available. Note that conflict with the Infernal is one of the themes of the saga, so this boosts the value of the rod. It's still a rather niche item though (compared to e.g. 5) so this pushes its value down.

because cow and calf is not part of the code, it is a private agreement made when the text is sold, and does not even necessitate that the one selling be the original author. If I copy an un-oathed book I can sell copies under cow and calf to reduce competition. Since the code does not recognize cow and calf it will not preserve it (potential exception in Normandy, but they probably wouldn't auction books anyways), and the person who buys at auction has made no such agreement.

Hmmm. This would be an interesting case for Hermetic justice.

If we look at the RAW (this is from Covenants) silveroak appears to be right: "Cow and Calf" is "an agreement that the purchaser of a book will not sell, or freely give, copies of that book without the seller’s permission." But if we do read it this way, it's a rather silly legal construct, that's rather easy to bypass (through e.g. theft, wizard war etc.) and does not achieve what it's supposed to achieve. If this were really the case, there would be no justification for the extreme reduction in price for books sold under the Oath. It's also unclear why it would be called a "Cow and Calf" oath.

On the other hand, we can read the text in Covenants as just a rough, poorly phrased approximation of what really happens. This is my favourite interpretation. A book "sold" under Cow and Calf is not "sold", it's loaned on a permanent (transferable) basis, regulated by the mundane intellectual property laws of Hibernia. Yes! Thanks to a groundbreaking ruling by the high king Diarmuit Ui Neill in the sixth century A.D. that equates copies made from a book to calves birthed by a cow, in Hibernia in the absence of other agreements copies of a book belong to the owner of the book, not to the copier, even if the copier had the book on loan at the time. If this is the case, reselling or otherwise transfering a book sold "under cow and calf" is effectively transfering only the lease of the book, which automatically assigns any new copies made (and copies from those copies etc.) to the book's original owner.


The comparison to mundane law is interesting, because not all legal systems completely agree about the ownership of a calf born to a cow. I know of at least one that rules that if you rent a cow, and the cow gives birth during the term of your rent, by default the calf belongs to you.



that one?

I think that in this case the reference to the story of St. Columba, one of the first copyright battles of European history, was what the author (Timothy Ferguson?) intended. The high king of Ireland had to make a ruling on a case where a monk (the king's own kinsman, and the future St. Columba) had been accused of copying without permission a book while visiting a famous monastery of Ireland. The abbot demanded that the monk hand over the copy. The monk admitted to copying, but argued that since he had not damaged the original and thus had not deprived the monastery of anything, his was not a crime, and the copy was his -- adding some very modern-sounding arguments about the virtues of freely spreading knowledge.

The king argued that the closest case that he could think of was that of a cow that bears a calf while on loan to someone else, pointing out that in the technical jargon of copyists the original and the copy were indeed called the "parent" and the "child" book. So the case should be resolved in the same way: "to every cow belongs its calf; to every book its child-book" (incidentally, note that cattle in Ireland at the time was the yardstick of wealth, so it's a bit as if in the modern day the king had talked about money and interest).

keep in mind as well that cow and calf is not part of the code, and is only enforced by certamen, largely supported by house Tremere. The first question is whether the house is willing to support whichever version is being used, which could vary by region and who is making that decision, and how much effort they want to put in to tracking down books.
Of course stealing books is a crime under the code, because that is loss of magical power, but using magic to surreptitiously copy a book could be another issue... in which case the Tremere may go after the person from whom the book was copied for not protecting it, the person who copied it (or had it copied), both, or neither. However if the book is seized and auctioned off at tribunal, I seriously doubt that the Tremere house is going to use certamen to try and force the tribunal t hold to the oath that a lawbreaker gave.


Oops, that's what I get for not rereading before clicking to send.

Editing now.