Customs vs Legalities for "Tribunal shy" magi

[size=85]First, forgive the probably stupid title of this tread. Not being a native speaker can be quite frustating to convey one's ideas at times. That being said..[/size]

Here's the hypothetical situation that I'm currently pondering :
4-6 magi, being official residents of either the Greater Alps or Rhine Tribunals, find reasons enough to form a covenant perilously situated on the tentative border of those two Tribunals. While I'm pretty much set of their "covenant" not being recognized as such by either Tribunals (at least not for a long time), I'm wondering if their somewhat hazardous endeavour would impact their individual "residency", officially speaking, if not then their right to vote at their respective Tribunals?

Also, when an apprentice has succesfully passed her Gauntlet, would her parens actually needs to present her at a Tribunal, for swearing the Oath? Or can this ceremony simply occur at the parens' covenant (recognized or not), or Sanctum, provided the usual requirements of witness(es) and Quaesitor(s) are met? I'm not sure if such ceremony taking place at Tribunal is more than a tradition of the Order, actually reflecting some other Code requirements, or not...

According to the supplements, Guardians of the Forest and Sanctuary of Ice, the two tribunals have different requirements for creating covenants, and thus differing story opportunities.
The Rhine requires all new covenants to be approved by all the existing current covenants, a pretty high hurdle to get to. Until that time, the prospective covenant is at the mercy of being raided by other covenants, being unable to vote at Tribunal, etc.
The Alps Tribunal requires 10 pawns of a renewable vis source per magus, and the covenant must also have two more pawns of vis 1 each for the Quaesitores and Redcaps (42-62 fo your proposed covenant). The 10 per magus aren't paid out to the tribunal, while the two pawns are paid to the tribunal for upkeep of the Quaesitores and Redcaps. Failure to have that amount of vis available annually is considered a low Hermetic crime. Those guilty are expelled from the Tribunal and must leave or risk being Marched.
The Alps tribunal values wealth. If you are wealthy, then you deserve to be a member covenant. The Rhine tribunal values tradition, if you respect their traditions and can demonstrate that sufficiently to all the other covenants, then you deserve to be a member covenant.

I don't see how apprentices can always be presented at Tribunal. As they happen every seven years, it's unlikely that a Magus would time their training to be complete to coincide for a tribunal. Also different Houses have different tests, and it would be troublesome to accomodate the varied tests all in one place. I would say presenting before a Quaesitore of the Tribunal would be sufficient. Whether this an annual gathering of all newly gauntleted Magi is something to be determined by the saga. I actually like an annual idea, and I'm sure the Quaesitore would prefer to have an annual one time event of presenting apprentices to swear the Oath.

The right to vote is in the oath, and isn't affected by the Rhine ruling. The real problem is the lack of corporate identity and consequent lack of protection. So the Covenant can't claim vis sources, though individual magi could and could have those rights upheld at Tribunal. Plus of course its a low crime, so you'll get fined.

Although, the individual magi who are trying to form a covenant are likely already members of existing covenants, and will be up until the point that their prospective covenant legally "exists".

Thanks for your helpful comments, guys! 8)

I have GotF, but Sanctuary of Ice is still next on my list. Even though I didn't find a lot of reviews about it.

Wealth? I haven't Sanctuary of Ice yet, but I thought that residents of this Tribunal were mostly focused on "higher" magical pursuits - taking pride in their disregard for lower contigencies. If I'd take a guess, would it be right to say that this interest for wealth comes from them considering financial comfort simply as a mean, to better be "unburdened" by the concerns of managing their covenants' costs (and cost of rare ingredients, perhaps)? Or is there something else entirely ?

Yep, I was thinking along the same lines.

Indeed. That would be a bit too heavy-handed, even from such "old and venerable" Tribunals.

Theoritically yes. Although I guess that, even backed up by the fairest of Quaesitor, individual magi would have a hard time swaying the votes in favor of their presumably legitimate "vis rustling".

err... sorry, what is a low crime exactly here ? Not being a member of a recognised covenant ?! :open_mouth:

hmm... I hadn't thought of that. This gives me some ideas, and I might adjust some of my NPCs backstory...

Wealth in Hermetic terms, large vis sources. 10 pawns per magus is the minimum requirement to be a member in the Greater Alps Tribunal.

While technically correct (if you take wealth to mean magical resources, i.e. vis), I think it's slightly misleading.
The Alps Tribunal values thestatusquo -- in other words, stability. It does value not wealth per se inasmuch it considers a modicum of wealth for all its residents a prerequisite for stability: a magus who is very wealthy is not seen as better than one of only moderate wealth, but any magus in poverty is much more likely to stir up trouble, whether contesting the vis sources of other residents, molesting the fay, or striking deals with dark entities. It's basically the same line of reasoning whereby many countries require any prospective immigrant to prove he has a job and/or a very solid bank account before being allowed to move in.

All the tribunals value the status quo. Normandy has their feudal system, Rhine Tribunal has the Gild system, the Alps Tribunal has the vis requirement, and the Rome tribunal has a paucity of vis and magical auras. IIRC Novgorod doesn't allow new covenants, etc and etc.

Not really. If they've registered the source with the Redcaps, then their case is pretty unassailable. The real problem in the Rhine is when their case is arguable, in which case being new magi, they must defer to any Master on any matter which may be settled by certamen (such as ownership of a contested vis source).

err... sorry, what is a low crime exactly here ? Not being a member of a recognised covenant ?! :open_mouth:
Disobeying the Tribunal's clear ruling on the foundation of Covenants. Technically it's a high crime, a violation of "I will abide by the decisions at Tribunal", but I think you've got to be pretty extreme and/or unpopular to be prosecuted for that.

Where is this part of the Code described? I'm not disputing you, I just want to know more about the legality vis claims.


This would he Peripheral Code of individual tribunals. The theory, one I subscribe to, is that once registered with the Redcaps, you now have some proof of ownership of the source. With proof of ownership, in the event that someone else harvests your source, and you can prove who it was, you can take that to tribunal and have them prosecuted for depriving you of your magical power, which is a High Crime. Of course, if you're a poor covenant going against a rich covenant they could have a tribunal stacked against you, and if they agree to repay the vis the case may be dismissed, or the redcap is convinced to adjust his memory, etc.

In the Normandy Tribunal vis sources must be registered with the Tribunal and are very tightly controlled. It must be within a half day of the covenant. Such is called a seisin and belongs to the covenant for as long as it exists. There are other vis sources which may lie outside that range. Those sorces actually belong to the Tribunal as a whole, and are leased or granted as prizes at the Tribunal's tourney.

Not sure what the Code says about individual magi claiming vis sources - not sure if there's any precedent for this listed anywhere, tho' that doesn't mean it can't happen. Just not sure where it would fall, how it would be registered/enforced/overseen.

(Ims, I'd rule that it's just not allowed - easier that way, avoids a number of foreseeable headaches, and a rewrite of much of the Peripheral Code to read "Covenants or individual magi...".)

Without being Tribunal-specific, the ramifications of not declaring a Covenant are huge, and almost all negative. Redcaps don't (officially) know that you exist, so messages may not be timely, if received at all. With no Tribunal to recognize the contract of the Covenant, there is no Covenant - no agreement, no official status, no law, no recourse if one mage "breaks" the non-existent contract. (And no Guernicus would approve a contract without knowing what Tribunal it falls under, specifically because of differences in the local Peripheral Code.) In many cases, non-residents to a Tribunal have significantly fewer rights to bring cases to that Tribunal than residents, and then suffer "outsider" prejudice during votes. Not a good thing.

Legally, it's no more than a handshake between magi, for whatever that's worth. Meanwhile, other covenants could prey on the "coalition of magi" as if it were nothing more than a convenient long-term camp - the group of magi cannot exercise any "rights" that a covenant might expect - it can't register any vis sources, it can't claim any buildings as their own (beside Sanctums), it can't claim covenfolk (as that could be interpreted as individual magi "interfering with mundanes", even if they are doing so together), it has no "territory" at all - "it" doesn't exist.

So, without a formal recognition by a Tribunal, all you have are several magi squatting in a locale (and quite possibly on territory formally recognized to belong to another, officially registered Covenant. Magi trying to gather vis in that situation are in for a world of hurt.)

Iirc, a mage must be a member of a House, and a mage must declare themselves a resident of one (and only one) Tribunal. The former is (iirc) a high crime, the latter a low-. This is to make clear who has authority over them, and (again, serf's parma etc) to belong to a Covenant in X Tribunal is to declare oneself a resident of that Tribunal. (The alternatives are too messy to consider, tho' this is The Order we're talking about...) :unamused:

The Rhine* Tribunal specifically addresses (and has elaborate social rules for) "peregrinatores", wandering, covenant-less magi, but without residency a wandering mage has no "local authority" over them - and waiting up to 35 years to bring a case against such is impractical, and sending "bounty hunters" out over Tribunal boundaries to seek justice for local crimes is not something that would warm many hearts.

(* Edit - had orig written "Normandy" - braincramp)

As I understand it, in canon, the Tribunal of the Alps does not (currently) allow any "new" Covenants, so it would default to the Normandy. If you want a true "grey area", move it to the 3-way border between Normandy, Rome and Provencal/Alps (last is your choice).

The fees you cite would be for pre-existing covenants.

I ran in an abortive Dragon & Bear saga, and I don't remember anything of that. House Tremere "strongly discourages" such, but there is no official Tribunal policy to that effect afaik.

It's all about House Guernicus witnessing and recording such. Of course, they would have to record the Tribunal where the gauntlet and oath occurred...

(While I empathize with your multi-lingual sentiments, you should look up the English idiom "false modesty". :wink: Your English is great - if (as your user-name implies) you are Japanese, even better. Honto desu, yo!)

Exactly (HoH: TL, p. 49) - This came up recently IMS :frowning:

You mean Rhine tribunal ofcourse - Normandy grant very few rights to wandering wizards, but make it very easy to settle down.

Techinically he appears to be correct. But! That means founding a new covenant requires unclaimed, renewable Vis sources worth at least 42+ pawns per year (I think they had a minimum of 4 members?). All this in one of the oldest and most well-established Tribunals within the Order. Unlikely enough that the elder magi are prepared to take the chance they might have to declare a wizard's war or 4 if someone actually managed.

Alps-book mentioned that, I couldn't find it in the Dragon and the Bear. It also would seem like rather a pointless rule :-/

It's not there in so many words, but the pattern is described in the "Hermetic Landscape" chapter - House Tremere tries several ploys to make Tribunal a wholly owned subsidiary, with varying degrees of subtlety, success, collateral damage and fallout.

Yes, corrected, thanks. France is understandably rather weak on Germanic hospitality traditions. :blush:

Why would they declare a Wizard's War? Such a waste of resources, and they've satisfied the requirements of the Tribunal. Sure, I'd see countless machinations against them, but I don't see a Wizard's War being declared automatically. Additionally, going by Sanctuary of Ice, there is room for two additional covenants. Secondly, if this is a border covenant, and it is rich, I don't see a reason for it not to be admitted to the Alps, as it weakens a neighboring Tribunal. I can even envision some wooing. Oh, Rhine won't admit you, but you have enough wealth, well come join us, type of thing. It just means that the Rhine Tribunal becomes a bit weaker in the grand scheme of things.

I think he means March, not War, as the former is essentially the official "Tribunal" form of the latter. If a group of magi "illegally" formed a Covenant within a Tribunal (and wasn't in a position to receive aid from a "bordering" Tribunal in the form of a border dispute), and personal fines and sanctions weren't changing that status, I'm not sure what other recourse would be available, altho', as has been mentioned above, not being "officially" recognized in one's home Tribunal carries with it more than enough penalties to discourage such a course of action.

Can't say that I have read SoI - not that I wouldn't want to, it's just never crossed my path (or the path of a Saga), and I've not sought it out since 5th ed. Does it specifically counter the 4th ed core-book canon, i.e. that "... The old covenants of this tribunal strictly enforce the status quo, allowing no new covenants to be formed within its borders..."?

I don't think he meant March, which means renounced from the Order and you can then be hunted down by anyone of the Order, without any legal protections. I think he meant Wizard's War, and that there might be multiple declarations per new magus in a new covenant. What constitutes a legally formed covenant is up to the Tribunal and the PC for that tribunal, and by and large is up to the troupe/sg.

SoI refines it a bit, it illustrates some of the existing covenants, and that there is room for two other covenants not descrbed. It does enforce the status quo, but the only way they do that is by limiting who can be a legal resident of the tribunal. If you have the vis source, you can be a legal resident. If multiple legal residents have a desire to come together as a covenant, then I don't see a problem. Someone that vis rich is unlikely to cause trouble, and if they do cause trouble, well, they'll do it early upon covenant formation and will likely be poorly prepared for a response. So, yes, they value a status quo, but there is a sense of equality among peers. To be a peer, you have to be rich.

re SoI - interesting, thanks.

(Altho' "room for two covenants not described" is not the same as room for a "new covenant". It merely leaves the two as tabula rasa, to be defined to fit the Saga. If it fits the pattern of Dragon & Bear, one would be the PC's covenant, and the other would be an ally or enemy covenant, as conceived by the Troupe. I'm not sure how "enforcing the status quo" and leaving a loophole for new covenants, however rich, is not contradictory to some extent - but supplements tend to take that license on occasion.)

Well, I certainly meant "March". If a Tribunal rules that a group of magi are doing something illegal (especially if they are clearly and willfully breaking a previously established ruling), and fines and sanctions aren't getting them to modify their behaviour and that behaviour is deemed unacceptable enough, then Marching strikes me as one of the few options remaining. To depend on individual magi calling Wars seems both unreliable and a sign of weak authority, and few (or no?) individuals may jump at the chance to put themselves at risk in the name of the Tribunal if the Tribunal can't enforce their own rulings.

And altho' a March casts a mage out from the Order, a March doesn't have to be declared by the Order as a whole (which would imply that Marches are only called once every 35 years) - it can be called by a single Tribunal. I would think (and hope) that it would have to be more serious than "forming an illegal covenant", but "continuing to defy Tribunal decisions" could certainly pass the test (depending on the support for the accused, both from within and without the Tribunal in question). (Especially if it's been 7 years since the previous decision and the "flaunting" has not abated.) In fact, I was always under the impression that if a Tribunal rules X, and a fine is involved, that paying the fine but ignoring X is cause for an automatic March, that a 7 year delay and a re-vote is not something to be counted on.

(Altho' that does bring up an interesting point, whether, if Marched by the ruling of one Tribunal, a mage could find sanctuary under the Aegis of another with a different view of things, or even appeal to House Guernicus if they thought themselves the victim of a political rather than purely "Code-based" March.)

You certainly take an extreme and run with it.

You may have meant Marched, fine. Don't put words in someone else's mouth. He said Wizard's War. That has a specific meaning, and I take it on its face until otherwise corrected. I have seen the terms used incorrectly, but I would still take it on its face until corrected.

That being said, like I said before, the only thing necessary for the Tribunal of the Greater Alps, to be considered a resident of the Tribunal, as defined in Sanctuary of Ice is to have sufficient vis sources of a rook per magus, +2 per covenant (or indivdual) to pay representatives of House Guernicus and Mercere 1 pawn each, annually. You're focusing only on the creation of new covenants as a means of maintaining a status quo. That can certainly be unbalanced by a bunch of eremites who have sufficient vis rouces of sufficient size to legally reside within the Tribunal. You're tending to dismiss the vis requirement in favor of the no new covenants mentioned in 4th ed. Sanctuary of Ice is a 4th edition book, and it refines the reason why covenants don't form in that Tribunal, however a situation may always be changed, especially if an SG so desires, note that the SG is going along this route. And while I certainly agree that room for two undesigned covenants isn't the same as room for new covenants, that doesn't preclude the fact that one could be new, with sufficient vis sources.

Taking the situation that the new covenant forms in the Rhine, my understanding in that case, is that it may be a covenant to the magi who are part of it, but others in the Tribunal doesn't see it that way, and they are without significant rights in that Tribunal. They have to be sponsored, and have permission of every other covenant in the Rhine. There are gatherings of Magi described in Guardians of the Forest, who hope to become a recognized covenant...

Does House Guernicus really have the authority to override lawful Tribunal decisions? I've always been skeptical that Magi would allow so much power to an entirely unaccountable agency. I would think an appeal to Grand Tribunal is the only recourse if a regional Tribunal goes against you.