Can Someone Summarize ME and OoH Politics for Me?

Title says all. I'm reviewing the Core rulebook, the Houses of Hermes books, and Lords of Men right now, but it's all sort of tumbling around in my brain not forming a coherent whole, in part because I don't know much or really anything about IRL politics. I mean, I'm getting the information, and whichever part I'm reading makes sense while I'm reading it, but then it all jumbles again when I try to apply it. Like, without the page(s) in question open in front of me, my brain can't get past "nobles want everyone to love them except the people whose land he wants, and he wants everyone else to hate those people". I literally can't make heads or tails of the Hermetic side of things without multiple books open in front of me, and even then the information is so segmented that I find it vague even while reading it. Something about trading favors?

Can somebody give me a bullet list or summary of how politics work on each end, one for what nobles do and one for what the Order of Hermes does? (I mean, House Guernicus and Trianoma Bonisagus seem to have a lot to do) Doesn't need to be comprehensive; that's what the book chapters themselves are for. I just want an outline, something that sort of puts the major points in big, bold letters and neatly ties the whole political process up, linking it all together so that I can apply the things I've read to it without confusing myself.

Thanks in advance if you can help me out with this!

Sometimes I think it's more about mindset than politics. It's hard to wrap one's modern-thinking brain around middle ages thinking.

It is not a summary, but some point that might be important.

The noble's politics is rich with vassality relationships. This system complexifies with time, and noble A can have lands with fealty to both noble B and C. When B and C enter in conflict, some problems may arise. Grudges and family feuds can play an important part, with some nobles dedicating their life to this enmity.

For Hermetic politics, I think a lot can happen behind the curtains, with palm greasing and shady deals. In my vision, votes are something that can be traded so even tribunal decisions become a question of influence.

This may be my vision, I hope it will help.

The Order's politics looks like this:

Every magus has multiple demands on his or her loyalty. It's not like in modern nation states where people are thought of as citizens first, and then Christians or whatever. Each magus decides for him or herself how to be pulled by the ties of family, geography, and friendship. Most members of the Order live in autonomous castles which occasionally clash with their neighbors over resources. KMost politics is on this petty, local, level.

In terms of major power blocs, it looks like this:

The largest magical army in the Order, with the best discipline, is controlled by House Tremere. Even House Tremere is not entirely sure how much damage it could do if it wanted to. House Tremere currently supports the Order because it thinks most magi are, at some fundamental level, much like adolescent idiots with explosives, and so they need the law to stop them blowing themselves and others up. A long time ago, Tremere tried to take over the Order, but failed. They don't know what weapon was used on them, and they assume its still pointed at them now. Presumably they have some sort of countermeasures, the effectiveness of which cannot be tested. On the other side, they've already shown that when they believe in something, they don't fight sensibly like other contemporary people: they fight total wars, in the modern sense. This means that House Tremere basically guarantees that the Order doesn't dissolve into civil war, because no-one who wants to disrupt it can get up to their military scale. At the same time, they can't make their own play, and in some sense they don't need to, because they tend to get what they want by political means.

The richest people in the Order run House Mercere. They have a heap of vis, and information, and contacts. No-one is sure precisely what else they have.

The Bonisagus have the most prestige in the Order, and they may have magical breakthroughs they didn't share (naughty!) and have kept for a rainy day.

The other Houses are left alone on the "Don't poke the bear with a stick" principle.

House Flambeau doesn't have an army to match the Tremere, but individually they are terribly dangerous people. Similarly, House Tytalus is basically 4chan with leprosy and weapons.

House Criamon keeps telling people it is going to free them from the Shackles of Time. No-one who is entirely sure what that means can explain it in plain Latin. They know way too much about Twilight to be mucked with. House Merinita similarly knows too much about Faerie.

Jerbitons can disappear into mundane society, and Bjornaers can vanish in the forests. On an individual level, this makes personal war against them difficult.

So, big battles between magical coalitions are rare.

House Guernicus is like a spy agency combined with the justice department. They have secret weapons. They control the courts. They can hold secret courts attended only by Qs. They have have spent centuries gathering intelligence and developing magics to abet such, while convincing the Order to enforce stringent rules prohibiting anyone else from doing the same.

House Mercere runs the phone company, postal service, internet and banking system. They swear they uphold net neutrality, so you know you can trust them. No, really.

House Tytalus wants you to mess with them, and goes out of their way to antagonize people, so you know they must be pushovers. They have no organization that can surrender on their behalf, so you gotta catch em all.

House Verditius is the Krupps of Mythic Europe. Fortunately, they just want to build stuff and outdo their housemates. God help you if you motivate to actually, ugh, use the stuff too good to sell.

House Criamon has magic that no one else even begins to understand. They talk peace, but the one you are most likely to meet is likely to be quite capable of severe violence (in the name of peace.) They usually want to be left alone, and it is best to leave it that way, because things get interesting in all the worst ways when Criamon are around.

Ex Miscellania are usually too insignificant to matter. Go get em. (Just be sure that any specific Ex Misc is not actually heir to secrets that will kill you, or worse.)

There are rifts among Latin, Greek and other backgrouds; between Christian and non-Christian; between Tremere and Tytalus; between accomodating and "dealing with" non-magi; probably others.

House Diende: there is no house Diende. Anyone who tells you this is a dirty, stinking, Infernal liar, who is after your soul, and probably your vis, and all of your other cool stuff. Report them to the Tremere.

When did Ars Magica turn into Paranoia?

More like Tom Lehrer's song "National Brotherhood Week."


The Tribunal is your friend. :laughing:

Good way to start a barfight with the elder magi at the local covenant: "So, what do you think was the REAL cause of the Schism war?"

For the PC's generation, they'd probably just respond with ", Infernalism? I guess?" In contrast, any PC's in house Tremere would go quiet and paranoid, while any in Gernicus would have the grace to look embarrassed.

editing mess up

you ask about the really elementary stuff. So here's some really elementary answers.

let's start with this: :

The next basic issue is the vast difference in magical power, culture, political savvy and analytical competence of the members of the Order. No book is telling you precisely, just how these qualities are distributed over covenants, Tribunals and Houses in your campaign. Assume, that egregious political ineptitude makes itself known, and prevents the holder from reaching key positions - but what Twilight recently did to a key magus is a storyguide and troupe decision.

Magi usually have many sorts of ties: to the Order as a whole, their Tribunal, their House, their covenant, their tradition and parens, and some even still to their families. The relative importance of these ties varies for each individual - but to make any headway in a hopefully long life a magus needs to find synergies between them, and to make them fruitful.

Covenants and parentes determine the interests - and hence the behaviour - of most magi directly. Tribunals usually are instances of a powerful peer group moderating such behaviour.

The influence of the Houses very much depends upon their leadership at a given time. If well led with a vision, they can marshal their members and resources towards long term goals, and thereby reshape the Order and even Mythic Europe. If not, they quickly become groups maintaining common traditions without purpose. What's better for a campaign is a troupe decision - but tme most opt for weak Houses.

Here's the author of the book on how nobles work:
And here's a recent edition of that book, in English:
Bloch, Marc. Feudal Society: Vol 1: The Growth of Ties of Dependence (1989); Feudal Society: Vol 2: Social Classes and Political Organisation(1989), ISBN 0-415-03916-9 and ISBN 0-415-03918-5
It is available as e-book, for Adobe eReader, from good bookstores, and even from amazon.


A full summary is beyond my powers. I did somewhat of a summary of Hermetic Society once, on the Project Redcap wiki:

One Shot's excellent 4 points, especially the first 3, are an excellent place to start understanding Hermetic society.

I would add one general description of OoH politics: most politics is personal politics. The Tribunal votes on each individual case, so what is deemed legal for one may be illegal for another. Votes are cast due to personal relationships and interests at least as much as they due to legalities.

Most topics are actually a done deal - either supported by enough interests so that the result is known in advance, or bartered between voting blacks in clandestine meetings during the Tribunal session. The public debates are mostly for show, except for trials and in some other rare occasions. The interests are almost entirely about vis-harvesting rights, with a few others (magical auras, mundane economy concerns) augmenting them.

The big voting blocks are the Tremere faction, and the largest/most influential covenants. Individual covenant members usually get to vote as they like in most issues, but will usually choose to vote as one on covenant-important issues (sometimes they have to by the covenant's charter), which makes covenants the important voting blocks. This is because even if the topic you want to support isn't important to covenant X, you can often get all of X's votes by promising them your support on topic Y which they do find covenant-important. Secret cults or other factions are usually less influential, except by working behind the scenes to influence covenant and Tremere votes.

All IMHO, of course.

You want to know what the political process is?

For Magi: It varies from Tribunal to Tribunal, but in general magi attend regional Tribunal meetings, where they have one vote each. Voters signal their vote by show of voting sigils, and these sigils can be proxied - "I can't go to Tribunal this time, but you are going, and I trust you to vote how I would like, and on this one issue you should vote this way." There are often pre-voting plans in place, with various appeals to justice or deals for support - "Vote my way here, I'll vote yours there."

Offices at Tribunal meetings are filled by traditional means, but generally the oldest magi chairs. The process is overseen by the Quaesitors, whose job is to advise on the Code. They either do not vote or proxy their votes (I forget exactly, and I'm not going to look it up at the moment). Members of House Tremere generally vote in blocs. Members of House Mercere generally do not vote at all.

The four True Lineages generally form a loose political bloc, mainly on the central point of maintaining the Order. The other Houses generally have narrower political agendas, and all of the Houses filter perceptions according to their House biases.

The mundane nobility want to expand their personal and family influence; they do this through alliances, some of which work at cross purposes. Royalty want the same on a grander scale; they are generally the most powerful player in alliances, but not always, and they have a lot more to track. There's no direct voting; things work by rule of personal authority, if sufficiently backed by acceptance of that authority. Generally, the eldest born legitimate son inherits the lead position, or the eldest surviving son, and failing that, the eldest surviving daughter.

The Church wants to increase influence of the Church, often with high goals but also with low means, and have a large and complex system to function. The Church often votes for offices, but otherwise rules by authority; various offices have various powers.

All of this is backed by the rule of power: "I have the power; do what I say," often with assorted levels of disagreement.

Hope that's mostly what you wanted?