I've tried to draft a Covenant Charter that takes into account the unusual nature of the covenant. Let me know what you think. I used the one from Covenants as a template and simplify it a little bit. Still it is fairly long, which is why I'm starting a new topic to discuss it.
Being the charter of the Covenant of ________ in the Year _____ of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
I pledge my support and loyalty to the Covenant of _______, and declare that the trials and fortunes of this covenant are now my own. Just as I am pledged to the Oath of Hermes, so do I pledge the covenant to the Order of Hermes. I swear to uphold and protect this covenant regardless of the personal price.
Over all the years of my life and throughout my studies and travels, I will neither betray the covenant nor give aid to its enemies. In times of need, I will aid the covenant in whatever way I am able, and I will devote myself to its service if the need is clear. I will abide by the decisions of the rulings of this covenant, and I will treat these decisions as if they were my own. I will treat my fellows with respect and fairness, and I will not attempt to harm them in any way. Their blood is my blood. Where the covenant stands, there do I stand; how the covenant grows, so do I grow; should the covenant fall, then do I fall. This I so swear, upon the honor of my house and its Founder.
Given under our hand, ___________
The covenant allows for two types of membership of its council, and recognizes a third status, which it offers to visitors to the covenant.
The status of Protected Guest may be extended to any person by the formal invitation of a single member of the covenant. Protected Guests are afforded the basic rights detailed by this charter, and are not obligated to the Council, nor are they a member of this council. They have no voice nor vote unless granted such by the council’s head, the Princeps . The status may be may be revoked by the member who granted it, by the princeps , or by a vote of the Council.
The status of Member is extended by the princeps or by unanimous vote of the Council. Members have the basic and full rights detailed by this charter, and the duties therein attached. Membership persists, unless abridged through censure or canceled through expulsion.
The status of Princeps can only be held by one who traces his line to Leonardus of Jerbiton. The princeps has the basic and full rights detailed by this charter, and the duties therein attached. The status of Princeps can only be granted or revoked by a majority vote of the heirs of Leonardus of Jerbiton. Should the line of Leonardus die out, this Covenant shall be dissolved and its resources shall become the ownership of House Jerbiton. This clause cannot be changed by the Council.
Should a magus ever come to desire release from this covenant, he must renounce his Oath of Covenant in the presence of at least two members of the Council, and shall thereby be relieved of all duties and rights, and may not call upon such rights furthermore.
Governance of this Covenant
The members of this covenant are governed by the Council of Members (the Council), which shall consist of all Members of the covenant plus the Princeps . This council shall not declare action except on behalf of the entire membership of the covenant; no action may be demanded of individuals by council agreement. The Princeps can overturn any ruling of the Council that was not reached by otherwise unanimous vote. The rulings of the Council cannot be overturned by an individual Member.
Any Member shall have the right and duty to convene the Council for consideration of matters justly grave, and all members shall be charged with attendance and diligence in the proceedings.
Should it not be possible to convene the full Council, any quorum consisting of more than half of its current members is considered valid; else the discharge of the council’s duty must be delayed until such time as the full council may be convened. The Council shall convene four times each year, one day prior to each equinox and solstice, regardless of call from any member, and all members of the covenant should endeavor to make themselves present.
Motions to be decided upon by the Council must be introduced by a member; debated fully and justly, allowing those who wish to speak to do so; and then proposed for the vote. Proposals must be seconded by another member of the covenant, else no vote can take place. All issues shall be passed by a majority vote of the members there present; excepting that the unanimous opinion of the Council is required for issues involving changes to the charter; and expulsion of a member.
The duties of the princeps are to attend regular meetings of the council; to keep order at meetings; to break tied votes with a discretionary casting vote; to determine the yearly surplus of provision and store; and to act as a spokesman for the Council. In dire circumstances, the princeps shall be empowered to rule on matters on the covenant’s behalf.
Resources Owned by this Covenant
Resources of this covenant are held in common by the Council , and it is the responsibility of this council to maintain and defend them.
The covenant lays claim to all the vis originating from sources inherited by the heirs of Leonardus and administrated by the covenant, as long as it pays the heir their rightful share of one pawn for every four harvested. This covenant lays claim to all the vis originating from undisputed and unclaimed sources discovered by members of the council; save for the first harvest of a new vis source, which belongs to the finder or finders. This covenant also lays claim to any vis gifted to the Council as a whole. In all other situations, undisputed and unclaimed vis belongs to the finder or finders.
This covenant lays claim to all books obtained by members of the council while acting at the behest of the Council, and all books scribed by members of the Council where payment was received for this scribing from the covenant’s resources. This covenant also lays claim to any texts gifted to the Council as a whole.
This covenant lays claim to all magical items obtained by members of the council while acting at the behest of the council; and all magical items made by members of the council where payment was received for this manufacture from the covenant’s resources. This covenant also lays claim to any magical items gifted to the Council of Members as a whole.
This council lays claim to all monies generated using the resources of the covenant. This council also lays claim to all monies obtained by members of the council while acting at the behest of the council. This covenant also lays claim to any monies gifted to the Council as a whole.
This council lays claim to the buildings, defenses, chattels, and inhabitants of the covenant. This council also lays claim to any such buildings, defenses, chattels, and inhabitants gifted to the Council as a whole.
Surplus resources of the covenant will be determined at the Winter meeting of the Council. Resources necessary for the continued existence of the covenant and the protection of its members’ rights are accounted for first; this includes payment for seasons of work performed on behalf of the covenant, the yearly payment of vis to each Member and a stipend of vis for the casting of the Aegis of the Hearth . Contributions to all debts owed to the covenant, as well as reasonable reserves, are decided by the princeps , and set aside. The remaining resources are deemed surplus, and shall be allocated to the settlement of requests from each member of the covenant.
Rights of the Members of this Covenant
Each and every member of this covenant and protected guests shall be entitled to the basic rights of the covenant; to whit, full and unrestricted access to the protection and support of the covenant within the boundaries of the covenant by all the rights and benefits accorded by the Code of Hermes, the benefit of a sanctum which shall remain inviolate and the supply of materials thereof, and victuals appropriate to the status of a magus. These basic rights shall not be abridged except by expulsion.
In furtherance and additional to the basic rights, a Member of the covenant shall be entitled to the full rights of the covenant; to whit, the right to presence and a vote in the Council, which he shall exercise dutifully with due prudence. Further, full and unrestricted access access to the library of the covenant, and the services and skills of the servants and covenfolk. Further, a yearly payment of three pawns of vis. Further, an equal right to all surplus provision and store necessary to conduct his studies, or the travel demanded by those studies; such rights to include (but be not limited to) vis, monies, and diverse magical and mundane resources claimed by the covenant. Where a conflict is evident between members of the council over the allotment of surplus resource, distribution is drawn by ballot; excepting that priority claims that have been advanced and agreed by the princeps are taken into consideration prior to the ballot. These rights shall not be abridged except by decision of the Council under conditions of grave concern.
Responsibilities of the Members of this Covenant
Members of this covenant are obligated to obey the Oath of Hermes and the Peripheral Code, as demanded by the Oath of Covenant; failure on this account will not be tolerated by the Council, and the covenant reserves the right to censure those members who are convicted in just Tribunal of an offense against the Order of Hermes.
The responsibility of the members of this covenant towards its lasting success is dependent on service to the covenant. The Council will declare the duties that need to be performed at the regular meetings of the covenant. Such duties include (but are not limited to) the safeguarding and harvesting of the covenant’s claimed vis sources, the safeguarding and harvesting of the covenant’s income, the wellbeing and discipline of the covenant’s employees, the maintenance of the covenant’s resources, the increase of the covenant’s resources, and the maintenance of good relations with the covenant’s allies. Duties that will not entail more than a week of service at low personal risk will be assigned by the council to its members, with no more than one being assigned to each member in each season. Such assigned duties attract no recompense or advantage to the member who discharges them, but cannot be refused without reasonable extenuation.
Duties which will entail a higher investment of time or personal risk will be offered up for service by the covenant. These services will attract a remuneration which shall be commensurate with the time, risk, and potential benefit to the covenant. This remuneration is decided by the princeps , but maintains a minimum payment which shall be, for a single season of work at low risk with a low gain, two pawns of vis, of the flavor most prevalent in the stores at the time. The Council may increase the remuneration to increase the attractiveness of a particular urgent task, for it is not empowered to force a member to accept one of these duties unless failure to perform it would be in breach of this covenant, in which case the threat of censure may be employed. All payments will be made in the Spring meeting of the Council. If there is more than one claimant for the service, and each claimant refuses to share the duty, then the princeps will assign the duty by ballot. If there is insufficient vis to meet the demands of the council, the princeps may withhold payment for one or more years. Covenant work may be declared such retroactively.
Censure of the Members of this Covenant
If a Member should contravene the decisions of the council, by vote or by charter, then the member may be censured or expelled by a vote of the Council. Censure requires the passing of a motion at a meeting of the Council. The censure of a member remains in effect for a year. It suspends the yearly payment of vis and serves as a warning that further transgressions will subject the Member to expulsion. The status of a Protected Guest may be withdrawn at any time by a vote of the Council or by the princeps without need for censure. The princeps cannot be censured.
Expulsion is enacted by a unanimous vote of the remaining Council. Expulsion is the only means through which a member of the covenant shall lose his basic rights; and requires that the former member ceases to draw upon those basic rights subsequent to the first full moon after expulsion was enacted. Should a magus be cast out from the Order, it is the duty and obligation of this covenant that he shall also and without delay be expelled from this covenant. The princeps cannot be expelled.
Am I mistaken or does Certamen not supercede any and all clauses in a charter? Certamen being the final arbiter of anything. Not that I see it happen, but stipulations in the charter saying: "This clause cannot be changed by the Council." might make a Quaesitor furrow his brow, and kindly ask for a revision.
Well, it is the clause that specify the princeps is designated by the heirs. It is their inheritance that is being used to found the covenant, so they want to keep a hold on it. If the Council could just eliminate the status of Princeps, or change the way he is selected, they would quickly lose that hold and everything else would quickly follow. So in this instance a Quaesitor would certainly recognize that clause as valid.
Certamen cannot be used to supercede the clauses of the charter, because each member swears an Oath to follow the charter. If they challenge it after swearing to follow it, they are breaking their Oath.And a non-member has no ground to challenge the Charter, because it does not force them to do anything.
Certamen is not the final arbiter of everything. It can only be used for a personal dispute between individual magi. Not a dispute with your own covenant, nor the ruling of a Tribunal.
Fair enough - I shall read the charter more closely, and give my view on it
What happens if the heirs decide to revoke the charter and kick everyone out? I may have missed it but I see no provisions protecting a Magi's lab equiptment, notes, etc. If I spend decades improving a lab and writing notes, then the heirs remove me and keep all that stuff because coven coin paid for it, that doesn't sound very appealing.
I see similar concerns arising over new vis sources.
I understand and respect the risk in losing access to a coven's resources due to bad behavior or even the vote of people you interact with routinely...but losing it all because of the whims of magi you've never even met?
The risk/reward still might well attract magi...but it might also encourage the hiding of resources.
We also need to address personal vis sources and "inhabitants" of the coven. If a magi captures and trains a Beast of Virtue or summons an elemental? Maybe I recruit a personal servant I really get along with or get married and have children. What about a favorite Shield Grog? Are we expected to abandon them if expelled?
I get that the players would likely be understanding in all of these situtaions, but Magi aren't known for being trusting...well mine is...but he isn't the one bringing this all up!
I think the phrases "at the behest of the council" and "with the use of covenant resources" cover that to a large extent, as does the basic Code regarding sanctums. Essentially it means that you only want to use vis granted as salary, rather than what happens in many covenants where people just get together and say, "Can I use X vis to get Y?" which would be ambiguous in regard to using covenant resources.
Maybe there should be a clause making it clear that the covenant makes no claim on the contents of the sancta or on magical property found or owned by the resident magi?
A magus' sanctum and its content (lab, notes, etc.) are all generally recognized (as in by the Peripheral Code) as the personal possession of a magus. He may have to pack his stuff and leave, but he gets to leave with his stuff. Anything that is distributed from surplus resources every year stop being owned by the covenant - it has been distributed.
Vis sources discovered during by the members belong to the covenant -- that's a fairly standard clause.
The vis sources which were part of the inheritance, on the other hand, belong to the heirs. They expect the covenant to harvest them and pay them a quarter of it (which is a great deal for the covenant).
There's no clause that allow the heirs to unilaterally dissolve the covenant. Thet only situation where the covenant would be dissolved is if all of them -- and their own heirs -- are killed. So the dissolution clause is there to prevent a ruthless group of members from assassinating all of the heirs to take full control of the inheritance.
This is another standard clause. People and sentient beings have free will. They can leave if they want to. The clause is more about protecting them, as claiming as the covenant's means any attack by other magi is covered by the Code of Hermes.