[Code of Hermes]: Magical Money Issue

A rival covenant has been found to have been sending magically created gold to a noble in Aquitaine. Said noble was happily engaging in the Albigensian Crusade, despite the wishes of his neighbors. He did not know immediately that the spoils of war were being supplemented by magi seeking his favor. Eventually, he is approached by a mundane operative, a bandit leader, who offers more gold in exchange for various strange rights (all connected to vis harvesting, some ignoring of the law here and there, and the right to pass unimpeded, etc.) The gold is the result of magic.

Said noble gladly agrees to the bandit leader's requests, as he is making crazy money and no one seems to be unduly harmed by this.

The increase in revenue, and the monetary savvy of the noble, allow him to continue to buck the desires of his liege, and he swears allegiance to the King of France over the Duke of Aquitaine at a moment that he sees as militarily opportune. He has numerous mercenaries in his employ from Flanders and elsewhere. He has built a number of extra castles and cannot immediately be deposed as visconte through force of arms. Rumor persists that he is good with money and made out well in his forays against the southern lords, whom he has betrayed in favor of the King of France.

10 years into the saga, the players have finally discovered from a wounded member of the rival covenant that the rivals were funneling money to fund the visconte's fortunes and war machine.


  1. The visconte is the younger brother of one of the mages, who forsook his birthright to become a mage.
  2. The player covenant accepted charity in the form of gold and food from the visconte when times were tough. This charity was made possible by the rival covenant's gold. The PCs have not yet put two and two together on this fact.
  3. The rival covenant never pumped money directly into the economy, but instead used it to gain favors from the visconte.
  4. The rival covenant never revealed the source of the money, or that they were wizards. A mundane always handled the money transfer, though a wizard was always on hand to guard the transport of the gold.
  5. The rival covenant never cast magic on behalf of the visconte, or otherwise favored him. He assumes they are bandits who are funneling their money through him for some strange reason, but he is not one to look a gift horse (or a Gift horse) in the mouth.

The players have just discovered this. The PC Quaesitor will be Leap of Homecoming back to the covenant soon to report on the status of the covenant's expedition to the East. He will then be given the full report on this gold scheme.

Has the rival covenant (lets call them Atsgingani) broken the Code or Peripheral Code (the anti-inflation ruling on magically created wealth)?
If so, what sort of punishment could they face when this comes to Tribunal?

And can I spin this into a tense court-room drama, or am I left with a brief Tribunal ruling and the following potential punishment?

I leave it to you, sodales!


Can you? I don't know - I think I could! 8)

Um... let's call them "Covenant A", and call it good! :laughing:

The citation from HoH:True Lineages (p 87) quotes only a ruling from the Stonehenge Tribunal, that "No covenant may put more than two pounds of magically created silver per resident into circulation each year", and goes on, explaining that...
The ruling did not cover gold, since gold is not used as currency in England. ... most members of the Order practice moderation when using magic to create wealth, to avoid creating a precedent for a Grand Tribunal ruling.
The Stonehenge magi were putting silver directly into the hands of local merchants, and causing inflation that way. This does not seem like that.

Several points to create courtroom smoke and mirrors -

  1. The ban is not an Order-wide blanket ban on "creating wealth" or "anti-inflation" - it varies (and widely!) from Tribunal to Tribunal. I can't quote what the Peripheral Code ruling is in the Provencal/Normandy Tribunal ("Aquitaine straddles that border, looks like), if there is one in canon. Many Trib's might limit only "silver" - the common coin of trade, which is what "commerce" is based on and what would hurt "an economy". Creating gold, gems, is mostly(?) overlooked, depending, because it operates at a different level. Go ahead, crash the sapphire market, see if we care.

  2. How much did they create? How much do they admit to, or can be proven?

  3. Interfering with mundanes is not illegal - the "illegal" part is when that act "thereby bring(s) ruin on my sodales". Covt. A. certainly bought this guy off, but they didn't manipulate him on a political level, nor did it come back and bite any in the Order.

Comes down to allies and enemies, basically "who cares?" one way or the other.

If Covt A has a spotless record, it might never get to Tribunal and only get verbal, unofficial warning - if that. If Covt A is the Beta House of the Tribunal.. well, double-secret probation has its drawbacks.

The "brother" thing could be trumped up, but it looks like Covt A covered its bases and went to great lengths to appear "non-magical" and stay squeaky clean on that count.

If I were running this, I'd have the PC's find out some piece of evidence at the last minute, something that the Viscount did with his money that could be interpreted as "bringing ruin on my sodales" - the Albigensian Crusade was brutal and vicious, and rogue army elements were often nothing more than Pope-sanctioned brigands - a small Spring Covenant (Covt C) in their way might have taken it in the shorts and never known the background on the funding of that particular mass of armed thugs.

But I'd make sure that Covt A gets off clean - a good enemy is a good thing in a story. :wink:

Hm, my session notes list silver initially, and then I change it to gold. Whoops. At least I started off right.

I had thought there was some sort of provision existant in the Normandy Tribunal, where my saga takes place. I'll need to look over the Lion and the Lily, but thus far the players have been made aware that there is indeed some sort of provision against it in their Tribunal.

Thanks for the reply.


Maybe the NPC's started off with silver, then decided that was too risky to repeat (even if a good place to start) and so switched to gold. Less traceable, less connectable back to them.

I agree with Cuchulainshound on the law - Covenant A took great pains to be clean, but proof that the money was used by the noble to harm other magi can get it into trouble. Flooding the market with gold can also get it into trouble, depending on the local peripheral code. Since you want a courtroom drama, you can use both aspects at once.

I'm not sure how best to make this case more interesting, though. If you intend the PCs to win the case against Covenant A, perhaps have an NPC Covenant C initially have an interest in allowing gold inflation, and have an opportunity to change that during tribunal. Perhaps have Covenant A convince Covenant D, the covenant that was harmed, to rescind any complaint in return for some favor - and make the PCs sweat to make their case against Covenant D's own pleading [perhaps on behalf of a deceased magus?] or to convince Covenant D to press charges.

Note the ramifications of a ruling against Covenant A - it means that even taking great care to isolate yourself, and not letting the noble knows you're a magus, the covenant is till liable for any harm done by the noble that can be reasonably argued to be related to whatever boons they're giving him. That would make making any dealings with any noble risky, and would be something I, as a magus in the tribunal, would be very, very much against introducing into the peripheral code.

Or for them.

This should not be overlooked or unplanned. After the smoke clears, the Tribunal, even if they choose not to hear the case, will be sending a message by whatever ruling they pass. What that message is stems directly from the decisions they make, and their explanation of those decisions.

They could find Covt A "guilty" on any of a small variety of crimes low or high - breaking the spirit of the Peripheral Code (legal mumbo-jumbo for "we just don't like your attitude"), breaking the letter but not the spirit of the P. Code (a slap on the wrist, the reverse of the previous), bringing Ruin on Sodales (high crime, if the T finds their actions led directly to harm to magi or covenant), etc. And the punishment tempers the ruling, stronger or weaker, as well. The severity of or lack of any punishment, and the "rationale" that the Tribunal ultimately gives for their judgement, will echo thru the rest of your saga. And the "winner" of the case will take the brunt of any ill will felt by other NPC magi and covenants regarding a strong decision - so the Player Characters could win this battle and lose the war, or vice versa.

Because Covenant A has gone to such lengths to prevent problems and for reasons that cant really be argued with unless one of those Vis sources have already been ruled to belong elsewhere by a tribunal of course, that i doubt there is any reason to expect any "conviction" against them.

And the fact that their gold has indirectly supported the PC covenant, they would seem terribly ungrateful louts if they went bashing them for it!

There is no "try", there is only "do". I think an arguement could be made that "helping to fund the Albigensian Crusade" is, in fact, causing problems, especially if a Covenant or mage found themselves caught in that meatgrinder.

But that's all up to the SG.

And what THEY HAVE DONE, ie what they are directly responsible for, is to avoid causing problems. Only if they have massive political weight against them would i expect them to be seriously convicted for this.

If you can pull that at tribunal, you can simply destroy the enemy covenant and have them convincted for wearing blue skirts later. That looks like a perfectly OK behaviour on the part of the bad guys. Incedentally, that is GREAT on your part :slight_smile: Better good enemies than cartoonish ones :slight_smile:

Oh, it's way worse than that in my opinion. We're talking High Crime, no question in my mind.

  1. They used magic to make the gold.
  2. They gave gold to a noble (Low Crime breaking the Stonehenge limitations on magical money)
  3. Said noble used the money to increase his power and eventually rebel against his liege
  4. They received favors in return (congratulations they are now court wizards)
  5. When they saw the noble using the money to upset the normal balance of mundane power, they didn't stop (so they clearly knew the effects).

They're meddling in mundane affairs, and if I were a PC Quaesitor I would insist on three things:

  • Someone has to be Marched for this. Not necessarily the whole Covenant A, but at least the ringleader.
  • Covenant A has to pay back all their ill-gotten vis as fines.
  • The benefits the noble received have to be undone. The gold in his treasury needs to disappear (and not be used again). His castles need to collapse in mysterious earthquakes. His military successes need to be reversed by inexplicable setbacks (such as his secret plans falling into the hands of the enemy). Maybe whoever makes this happen gets a share of the vis Covenant A has to repay.

The first is not a crime at all, and the second applies only in Stonehenge because the effects on local economy were being traced back to the Order. That has not happened in this case. Additionally, this provision applies only in the direct creation of money which is not in fact the case here. The covenant is creating wealth, yes, but in the form of loot from bandits which rather than affecting the coffers of the middle classes is enriching the liege and being redistributed through his works, minimising inflation and leaving the social order unscathed. They are also doing so via an intermediary and precedent explicitly allows the sale, even of obviously enchanted items, to mundanes by intermediary. This is far more easily linked to the Order, and yet is still permitted.

A magus is not responsible for the actions of anyone save himself and his apprentice. A Verditius might make a sword which is later used in regicide, but the Verditius is not responsible for that. The noble could as easily have used the funds to support his liege, to improve roads in his territory or hire large numbers of whores whilst buying off the local Bishop. None of these are Hermetic crimes, and none have been traced to the Order anyway.

Not at all. They're not represented at court, are never seen at court and do not directly serve the noble. They have not bowed to his authority over their magic, nor struck at his enemies or aided his friends. They have bought services from him using magically created wealth. This is no more a crime than funding one's covenant by selling magically grown grain, the taxes upon which enrich the local lord. True, the sums are larger in this case, but so are the privileges bought. Any action a covenant takes in an area, however small, will affect the nobility. To accuse them of acting as court wizards because their actions have, as secondary effects, benefitted their local area is suicidal precent for the Order.

Unimportant at best. Nobles are loyal or treacherous as the will takes them. There is no way to trace this to the Order, and absolutely no difference in behaviour from the noble from the case where he simply discovered a silver mine in his lands. The normal balance of power has not been shifted by anything save the ambitions of a mundane lord - he would have found the monies to finance his plans one way or another.

The covenant in question are paragons of the Oath of Hermes. They are safeguarding vis sources, distancing themselves from mundane politics by intermediaries and refusing to become involved. The PC covenant, on the other hand, has allowed itself to become indebted to this lord and by maintaining his ties to his brother, one of the magi has left the covenant exposed to the viscount's enemies and thus exposed the Order as a whole to accusations of interfering with mundanes. Were I in their shoes, I would treat lightly for fear that the quaesitores heard tell.

And it occurs to me that this is perhaps the most dangerous response of all. A noble house, in rebellion to the throne, is destroyed by magic, and people will realise that it is magic. How can the mundane world not see that as the Order interfering with their affairs. In a single stroke, the Order will have become a political entity allied with the throne in the eyes of all of Europe.

Quite far from my take of what a usual tribunal would do about that.

  1. Use magic to make gold is not a crime AT ALL.

  2. The stonehenge ruling is NOT BINDING in Normandy at all. besides, being gold, it is NOT BINDING In stonehege either. This can be changed by a ruliong, but it was lefgal when the action was made

  3. Here is where tyou have a small hold on the magi, I agree. But remember that meddling in mundane affairs is NOT A CRIME unless it has an impact in other magi. You could kill the king of france and come up clean without it being a strict hermetic crime if no mundanes learned about that, in fact. That is unlikely, since it is more than probable that you would be denounced by your fellow hermetics, but that is another issue. Only if it brings ruin on your sodales is it a hermetc crime.

  4. Getting favors for some payback is usual for 99% of the hermetic covenants. Paying for vis rights is a standard procedure IMS and others I have seen. You can pay in gold, in products, in services, in information, in books or anything in between.

  5. Read point 3. Nowe, here is where we have a crime if the noble did put some other covenant under pressure and/or killed some magi. Here is where the crime lies, if you accept this stance (and it can be refuted at tribunal with equal ease). The rest of the time, it was perfectly OK to do it. This last bit is debatable, and here you can fight the battle if you want, but it is not a clearly defined situation, and can be turned against the accusers as easily. Thread carefully before taking the torches and pitchforks here, or they can come back to bite you.


I am quite happy that so many legal arguments can be made on this case, which means that a lot of twists and turns can be used in the trial.

As for the Stonehenge Tribunal ruling, I thought that this had been noted somewhere (perhaps Covenants or some other book dealing with covenant income?) that similar ruling existed in other Tribunals.

That inspired me to note to the players that yes, indeed, this ruling did exist to combat inflation specifically. I'll try and figure out where else I saw mention of the "magic gold/inflation issue".

Also, as a note, the Noble in question has no idea that the gold is magically created, or what wizards are involved. In fact, his brother, the local PC Terram magus, was brought up on charges when he used magic to seal the open gate of his noble sibling's castle from attack by southern lords seeking revenge for the noble sibling's attacks against the Cathars and their supporters.

Thanks to all thus far for adding to what will surely be a memorable court room drama - especially if the elder brother turned magus has to destroy the new castles on his family's land.

I strongly disagree, and am more along the lines of thinking of Ftaghn, Xavi, and others. I mean, it is obviously not a clear cut and dry case, for there are different opinions held by various real people, so I suppose the fictional people at a tribunal would be equally divided.

So? What's wrong with that? There is a spell in cannon that does that very same thing. What law is being broken?

They are not in Stonehenge, that ruling has no bearing on upon what they do in Normandy. Different jurisdiction.

Not their fault, not their problem. In fact, since said liege was supporting foul heretics, I would be inclined to cast my vote in favor of Covenant A simply out of sympathy and my sense of righteousness.

That is a mighty big leap. They worked through an intermediary, and it was an exchange of services. The Verditius who sells obviously magical items through an intermediary is not accused of being a court wizard, why should these guys? A court wizard is a wholly different kettle of fish, and involves direct and submissive service.

This is the one valid point, and the whole of the case would hinge upon this alone.

If I were the defense attorney, I would offer the following counterarguments

By far this is too harsh! The punishment should fit the crime (if any has been committed, which I do not agree there has). Excessive and arbitrary punishment leads to chaos and a collapse of order, for the Q's are seen as tyrants and despots, and sit becomes the responsibility of any just and righteous magus to overthrow them. Bad, bad idea.

You will have trouble proving an exact number, and I still think this is too harsh. If I were the defense attorney, and if I could not get a vote for acquittal, I would argue for a fine of ten or twenty pawns max.

Yikes! This is a High Crime! That is a flagrant and grotesque violation of the code! This is the worst possible solution, and I would try to have you marched for even suggesting it! I mean, come on! By what stretch of the imagination is this just or correct? Setting an example for the world that the Order of Hermes will blatantly interfere with mundanes to punish their own. That is just wrong on a level that boggles the mind. If I were Praeco, I would silence you and have you removed from the tribunal.

And nobody cares the slightest. The only ruling that exist is against carelessly distributing magically created items of value, ie creating inflation.

Giving gold away isnt a crime, not that its even in the same tribunal.

Who cares?


Again, nobody cares.

Now doing this WOULD be a serious crime.

The only issue with meddling in mundane affairs hasa already been mentioned 'and therby bring ruin on my soldales'.

Any prosecution would need to prove this as a likely outcome. As has already been mentioned this is all about the quality of the presenting queasitors.

The Stonehenge tribunal is a worthwhile guideline, and evidently reflects local variations and serves well as a universal baseline. It is not a universal absolute or even a Stonehenge absolute. Anything above those numbers might raise suspicion and be grounds for a hearing but is in no way certain of success.

A good quaesitor can have you fined heavily for speaking ill of a magus. Arguing this lead to distaste among his sodales and thereby preventing him from developing in certain ways and ultimately depriving him of his magic. A good queasitor could also get you off from robbing prima of house Guernicus on the grounds that he owed you the Vis for services to the order. These are extreme examples - but thats legal banter & bargaining for ya...

Also, consider that the Stonehege tribunal is pretty much a lousy backwater if you ask the inhabitants of modern France, so if this attitude is shared by the magi (and I don't see why it should not) they might look with quite some raised noses at precedents from that tribunal.


And exactly because it is a bit of a "backwater", the ruling there may not have happened elsewhere (unless in an extreme case) because a more "busy" place will have less trouble with inflation due to extra money flowing in.