Case 10: When Wizards' Wars Went Wrong

I think the time has come for a straightforward case, which provides a pretty simple situation, and requires judgement based upon fairly well known facts.

Antonius of Verditius and Gorax of Tytalus had long engaged in a bitter argument, which despite the peacemaking attempts of their sodales escalated to Wizard's War. The two magi lived in covenants a mere hundred miles apart, within the Roman Tribunal. When the war was declared everyone expected Antonius to win; he was a puissant weaponsmith, and maker of fine machineries of destruction. Yet mere minutes after the opening of hostilities, while Antonius was still within his Sanctum, Gorax walked in to his enemies covenant, and collapsed the tower that contained Antonius' sanctum and forge upon him, killing him outright.

Immediately afterwards, Gorax was killed by three magi of this covenant, Clara of Verditius performing the killing blow with a mechanical wyvern, but Heironymous attacking him with a Pit of the Gaping Earth wand and and Valeria also attacking Gorax indirectly by a CreoAquam enchantment that flooded the pit in to which he fell (He may possibly have drowned while incapacitated by the Wyvern attack?) . The three claim that they killed Gorax in the act of committing a Hermetic crime, and that as the collapse of the tower denied them a perfectly usable lab, the flames from the smashed forge caused a fire that endangered the library, and three grogs armed with covenant magic weapons were also killed in the collapse, forfeit immunity applies and they killed Gorax when he was not under the protection of the Code, that is while he was committing a Hermetic Crime, and therefore no charges can be brought against them.

Gorax's covenant strongly disagrees, and demand justice for Gorax. None fo the other three had declared Wizard's War, and no retribution they say should have fallen upon their sodalus for pursuing a legitimately declared war - so they are clearly guilty.

Over to you
cj x

Guiseppi Caliteri ex Jerbion gives his opinion:

The damage to the library and the burial of the grogs with magical equipment are acts depriving those Magi of magical power and so are criminal. The destroyed lab was part of Antonius's Sanctum and so fair game. However when Gorax was attacked the destruction had already been wrought and, Antonius being dead, Gorax had no reason to continue offensive action. Forfeit immunity only applies during the commission of a hermetic crime and the act of commission was over. Therefore the response to that damage should have been through formal measures such as a case before us or a properly declared Wizards War.

Further, it seems likely to me that the killing of Gorax was at least in part motivated by the desire of these Magi to avenge their comrade. Such vengeance for a lawful killing is expressly forbidden in the code. This is a prohibition upon the would be avengers rather than a protection on the target of vengeance and so applies even if said target is in a state of forfeit immunity. The prohibition is highly necessary for the peace of the Order as without it wizards war devolves into ad hoc bloodshed. As such I believe Heironymous, Valeria and Clara guilty of a high crime and I will so vote.

Sophronia Tremeris speaks next.
Gorax was certainly within his rights to attack Antonius within his sanctum. However, his right to attack a sanctum begins and ends within the sanctum. Attacking a building, belonging to a covenant, with resources in common to the covenant is not acceptable. Tell me, Praeco, was the sanctum marker on the exterior ofthe building, thereby the entire building destroyed was the sanctum of a magus? Destroying common property of a covenant is never allowable in a Wizard's War, and is, in fact specifically discussed in Quaesitor Justinius Tremeris's tractatus of Lex Hermetica. "Endangering the property of a magus not a party to a Wizard's War declaration, such as property held in common with magi of a covenant, is expressly forbidden within the Code, and is an example of an act that confers forfeit immunity."
She turns to the Praeco, "I need the matter of fact resolved, Praeco. Is there a record of what Antonius's declared sanctum was, are there witnesses, besides the accused who can stipulate as to whether the entire building was or was not Antonius's sanctum?"

Not Guilt. Cut and dry.
They attacked the intruder immediatly after the collape of the tower. They had no idea yet if their sodale perished or if the intruder was going to continue his attack on their covenant. Self Defense.
The agitants are both dead. No need to draw the matter out further.

Ecelo ex Miscellanea, an itinerant Seeker, speaks next:

the three Verditius magi have undoubtedly violated the Oath, by slaying Gorax without a declaration of Wizard's War. I would point out that slaying is always a violation of the Oath, but under extenuating circumstances it is not punished or receives a lesser punishment. For example, no punishment befalls a magus in his own sanctum, should he find and slay there another; no punishment befalls a magus, who slays another who is engaged or preparing to engage in an act that seriously threatens another’s life, magic or covenant (HoH:TL, p.46).

In this case the Verditius magi claim that they should receive no punishment, as Gorax had deprived their covenant of magical power by destroying Antonius' laboratory, by killing three grogs armed with magical weapons, and by starting a fire that could have damaged their library.

Now, there is ample precedent that, in a Wizard's War, all of a magus' possessions are fair game, so to speak -- and so is anything in his Sanctum unless there is overwhelming evidence that it is the possession of some other magus (HoH:TL, p47). Thus the destruction of Antonius' laboratory is certainly no crime. There is also little evidence that the fire could have caused serious damage to the library, for it was one started by the collapse of Antonius' forge, and any covenant with due diligence would have taken the simple measures sufficient to protect their library from laboratory accidents -- and the library was not damaged in any case. As for the grogs, it remains to be seen whether they were in Antonius' sanctum, whether they and their magical weapons belonged to the covenant or to Antonius, whether the magical weapons were indeed destroyed, and if not whether the slaying of mundane servants is considered deprivation of magical power. Still, even in the worst case, the destruction of three grogs and their magical weapons hardly constitutes an act that seriously threatens a magus' life, magic or covenant.

Perhaps more importantly, as Giuseppe Caliteri correctly pointed out, the magi admit that Gorax was killed after the fact, rather than during it or while preparing for it. A subtle distinction, but an important one. For slaying a would-be criminal is a violation of the Oath, but one that prevents another violation; while slaying a criminal after the crime, without Tribunal's sanction or Wizard's War, adds a violation without removing another. And there is very little evidence that Gorax meant harm to the rest of the covenant, for he had declared Wizard War on Antonius alone, and Antonius he had just slain.

Thus, the three magi should be punished, and stiffly, for the unlawful slaying of one of our bethren.

"Wizard's War must be conducted with care, so as to minimize collateral damage. Determining what is collateral damage is important, hence my question of fact that, as yet, remains unanswered. If Gorax destroyed the tower, and it is common property of the covenant, then a response of magi of the covenant is justified. Ecelo, consider if one of your covenant-mates is engaged in a Wizard's War and suddenly the common property of your covenant is being damaged or destroyed. You have every right, under the Code, to respond with deadly force to stop it, as the magus prosecuting Wizard's War is operating outside the bounds of the Code as it relates to Wizard's War."

The tower had three floors - the ground floor was Antonius's forge, the second floor grog quarters, the upper storey his lab - and that alone bore a sanctum marker. It was the collapse of the tower that blew burning material on to the library roof - and the library would have burned, had it not been a Creo Aquam spell cast by one of the three magi accused, Clara, who took no role in attacking Gorax, though ironoically may have been the person directly responsible for his death (see above, if he drowned while incapacitated). The magi claim Gorax was attempting to cast a MuTe(ig) spell on the remains at the time they killed him. The purpose of the spell is unknown.

cj x

"The Code is clear. I vote to acquit. Any magus who prosecutes a Wizard's War must do so in such a way that minimizes collateral damage. The right to destroy a sanctum is clear, but if that destruction causes additional damage, he breaks the Code, and has forfeit his immunity." Sophronia says clearly and decisively.

Solomo the Blind, a senior transitionalist of House Guernicus mostly known for his rather alternative works on Hermetic Law, scrambles to his feet leaning heavily on his cane while moving his milky-eyed head back and forth as if uncertain in what direction to deliver his address.

[i]"It is well known that Nothing moves with the abscense of Will, neither the Rock nor the Hand. One cannot question the Generans of the Rock as it rolls down the Hill nor the Smoke as it rises to the Heavens, but One must always question the Will of Man and in which of the many Seats of the Mind these Events were set in Motion. Thus we must ask of Ourselves whether these Acts were an Instinctual Response sprung from the Vis Aestimativa of the Accused or whether It was a vile Poison concocted in the Seat of their Vis Phantastica."

"It has already been well established why the Accused may or may not have broken their Oath and Our esteemed Sodalis"[/i], the seemingly blind Solomo now turns to nod toward Ecelo ex Miscellanea, [i]"has qualified our Deliberations with the Matter of Sequence; did the Accused strike at a Time in which our Deceased Sodalis had forfeit his Immunity? I believe that Ecolo ex Miscallanea has come the Issue the nearest with this Perspective of his, yet I would like to Challenge it further, as this is not only a Matter of Sequence, but one of Intent. Did the Accused believe that the Deceased was targeting their Covenant and whether He had in fact ceased his Assault or not, or were they moved to meet him with deadly force with any other Intent?"

I would put to the Tribunal that they all three be punished for the slaying of their Sodalis, unless they subject themselves to a reading of their Memory and that it is there found that their Intent was one of Instinctual Response to a perceived Threat to their Covenant and thus their Magical Ressources. I thus reason that one Accused might be proven Innocent of breaking the Code while another might be proven guilty of it, as their Intent might vary."

"Minds are little different to Books to me and I shall gladly offer my Assistance in such a Reading."[/i]

To whom were those grogs on the second floor assigned, if to anybody? (This question made to ascertain, whether the entire tower can or cannot be considered to belong to Antonius alone.)

Was it Clara or Valeria who cast the CrAq? (There appears to be some confusion here.)

How do they know? And was it a MuTe(Ig) or a MuIg(Te)? (The latter could have been 'Trapping the Fire', after all.)


And that's what the sanctum marker does. It determines what is "owned" by a magus and what is property in common. If the entire building was faced with a sanctum marker, then the entire building is his, and it can be destroyed with impunity, so long as it does not endanger other buildings. I could have, as Sophronia, discussed the library first, but the destruction of the building is the slam dunk issue here. He is responsible for collateral damage he caused.

Gorax, if he had prosecuted the Wizard War with more care an response of this scale wouldn't have happened to him. Some are arguing on Gorax's behalf, but I have litle sympathy for a magus who cannot contain his attacks to the sanctum or the person of the Magus. IF you wish to prosecute a Wizard's War, you must be precise, or prepared to defend yourself if your attacks introduce collateral damage. While it is possible that Gorax may have been trying to mitigate his collateral damage, that isn't really a matter of fact for this Tribunal. The accused offer that information, but they are under no compulsion to interrogate someone who attacks them. Gorax should have, perhaps, withdrawn to a safe distance and then sent intermediaries to make reparations, and then this would not be a matter for a Tribunal. I say, let this case serve as an added warning to those who engage in Wizard's War. Do not attack with impunity, unless you are certain that only your target or target's property is the only thing that will be the recipient of your magic."

Are you sure of that in the case at hand? To me it looks spurious to conclude out of hand, that everything not marked with a sanctum marker and present on a covenant site were common property of all magi.


I'm operating on the facts as presented. Even if your assertion is proven true, that Antonius owned the entire building, it just moves the argument onto the library, and stull goes to the duty of care of ensuring that whatever you do during a Wizard's War doesn't damage another magus's property.

A magus has no way to know what is and isn't the property of another magus without a sanctum marker. He can be relatively certain that any structure or room belonging to the magus is either the exclusive property of the magus, or is immune to prosecution if it is destroyed in a Wizard's War (as in the case of borrowed items being destroyed in a Wizard's War, when the reside in the sanctum of a participant) only when it is faced with a sanctum marker. IF the prosecution of this case wants to demonstrate that Antonius had exclusive use of the building and grogs therein, they need to provide evidence demonstrating that. Cross-examine the defendants, but even still they would have to prove that Gorax also knew this, too. And then, we move onto the library, which is almost certainly collateral damage and we litigate the argument again.

In any event, if someone invades my home and does something illegal in it, I'm going to do what I can to defend myself. The same if I'm playing a magus in a covenant where an amicus is being attacked. Ultimately, if you want to prosecute a Wizard's War, be really precise and don't give anyone else a reason to attack you.

Well - I didn't assert that all the tower was Antonius'. i just like to find out. If it was his, the fire on the library might have been an accident not intended by Gorax - while it looks to me that he intended full well to collapse the tower.

Hmmm - he might have researched his long time enemy. It would be the thing the typical mage (with a positive Int) can be assumed to have done.

Once we have verified, to whom the entire tower belonged, we have to go on with the investigation, of course. But if all the tower was Antonius', all the other actions of the participant magi would have to be analyzed under very different aspects, like:
(A) Was there any communication between Gorax and the other magi? Were there attempts at least? What was said, and who did understand it?
(B) Some magi (at least one of either Clara or Valeria, but perhaps even Gorax) tried to do damage control, others did not. This situation we need to understand better, because from it the individual responsibilities can be determined.


Communication between the magi is largely irrelevant.
Gorax could have said, "Sorry about the library" and they would have still had the right, under the Code to slay him.

What if he did clearly and for everybody understandably say: "Sorry, I don't understand how the library has caught fire. Let's extinguish it together and save the books."?
But that's too many 'ifs' for me now - so I propose to wait until we have the information requested, and continue then and from there. 'Cautio Criminalis', you know.
In the meantime, everybody can look up HoH:TL p.45f on 'Forfeit Immunity', and it being "a matter of degree".


Can we Whisper the body of Gorax for info on intent on his last spell?

In general I agree with my sodales that killing someone attacking your covenant is not a crime, so I will vote for the innocence of the three mages involved. Killing their covenant mate in the war was fair. Destrpying anything buyt the area covered by his sancrtum marker is attacking the covenant (even if the sole user was Antonius) so Gorax was fair game for retaliation.

But retaliation is not covered under forfeit immunity. We have laws and prescribed forms for retaliation and for good reason! In the days of our founders unlimited conflict between wizards was a thing of horror and since then, thanks to their efforts, the lore of this order has grown, the power of it's members has waxed and so the potential devastation if things become a free for all has multiplied. The guilt of Gorax in the matter of reckless destruction is hardly the issue - it is the response of these Magi that has put them on trial.

I grant that the heat of the moment is a mitigating factor. I will further grant that a genuine belief that Gorax was about to continue, to add to the endangerment of the covenant, would justify lethal force - their statement that he was casting with an ignem requisite is germane. If they can prove that it was their genuine belief at the time and that they had no other motive then we should acquit BUT I say it must be for them to prove for the prohibition on vengeance must be upheld and be seen to be upheld. It is vital for the stability of the Order. And the undisputed fact is that they have slain the man who had just slain their covenmate in lawful wizards' war.

I suggest they take up Solomo on his kind offer.

Being a Yankee born and bred, my culture has instilled in me the maxim of law saying "innocent until proven guilty". I know that has no bearing here, but still. I feel that the burden of proof needs to weigh on the prosecution. There is clear reasonable justification for the actions of the three magi.

In modern legal terms, Giuseppe is saying that revenging a wizards war slaying is so threatening to the order that it must be a strict liability crime and a mens rea is not necessary. The sequence of events was such (and undisputed) and the crime was thus committed. A claim that that sequence of events happened for a different and legal reason is an affirmative defense (as a claim of self defense in a modern homicide case would be) and is for the defendants to prove.