Dealing with mundanes in peace and in war

Hi there,

We are about to settle down in the isle of Man. Or half of the troupe is, at least. The local characters are still on their way there :slight_smile:

The thing is that we are about to try to get control of the calf of Man as landholders. All the land of Man belongs to the king, and the local hersir (baron) just died conveniently for us (no hermetic implication in that unfortunate event... or none that you can shake at us, at least). Our idea is to offer the king first quality quarried stone for his castle under construction, something that would save him hundreds of pounds of silver if he allows us to get the island as our particular domain. So far so good. He has to accept, though.

That is not a big problem, but I, as alpha SG plan for the king to demand a few things more out of the magi. GHe can get the stone elsewhere after all, but a ready made harbor is something that he has no ability to make, while the magi should be able to wrestle one form the ocean with relative ease. If he does not get that, he will demand a lightower (easy circle ring CrIg spell) in the calf of man to prevent shipwrecks in those treacherous waters.

Here is where things start to get tricky and the clause of mundane interference (copurt wizardry) could start to be raised. So the question #1

What level of public works is acceptable of the magi without breaking the code? Could they get away with a lightower in the Calf of Man?


Question number 2 belongs to their independence. Assuming that they get control of the calf of man (they should if they do not do something utterly moronic), there will be some conflicts regarding mundane forces.

The Calf will be the "covenant's demesne", so they would be entitled to defend it against invasion by enemy forces, both mundane and supernatural: until the king says otherwise, it belongs to them. If a mundane force that is an enemy of the king attacks the calf of man, would killing them all be seen as meddling in the affairs of mundanes? They are acting to protect their own land, but in doing so act EXACTLY like a baron of the king of man defending the lands of his liege.

If the attackers are a bunch of brigands, there is no problem. But if they are a count fighting the king in a civil war, what happens here? Willthis be seen as acting as court wizards? Can this be seen as the nobles resenting magical influence?

Thx in advance :slight_smile:

Kill them softy and subtly, with disease or some such, something that can be explained away as natural.
Or use the Trentus of Flambeau method. Leave no witnesses :smiling_imp:

The book (HoH:S, p. 46) sets limits on dealing with mundanes.

As a(n) SG,I'd say: If your characters are subtle, make it a minor hook that will resurface later.
If they are blunt, let the friendly Magvillains show up and hassle them (or involve them deeper and deeper into mundane affairs: until they are hopelessly caught. Saves the hassle of explaining how the Quaesitores come to the fringes of civilization, and all the legal nitpicking - unless your players are munchkins - and you wantt to feed them).

I would say that creating the harbour is going to get them into trouble as it would be obvious to anyone who knows the area that the new sheltered bay was not there before.
A Lighthouse seems reasonable, it could have been built by mundane means and as long as there is no close investigation it will not stand out as magical .

As to defending themselves it is going to depend on politics, if they defend themselves with entirely mundane force they are going to be fine. If they use magic the more blatant the more problems they will have , it depends on if they have enemies at Tribunal or if their attackers takes out his anger on other hermetics. I would recomend sudden storms to sink the attackers ships, pretty much unprovable.
If they are attacked by magic , then pretty much it is open season on the attackers

Yes id say they can get away with this and the harbour both. As it doesnt put the magi in employ of the king, but rather is more of a one off "business deal".

Have him demand ALL of those. Giving out land is a BIG thing. A lighthouse and a port might be something a normal noble might be charged with in return for being given land like this.

I would say you gave the answer yourself. They have to protect their OWN place, regardless if that means also doing what the king would want. (which of course could raise problems if a force goes there that the king does NOT want dead even if they may be enemies) :smiling_imp:

As with first question, they can get slammed for it by a hostile tribunal or if badly outmatched politically, but on average i wouldnt expect so as long as they dont overdo it.

Their contract for the land is with the king, no difference from above.

Still defending their home turf. But of course it can always be MADE to look like it.

Oh certainly.

The lighthouse logically belongs to the covenant if built by them, it was merely at the 'sugestion' of the king.

A harbour.... harder to argue, but if the mages retain the rights to operate and charge for the use of the harbour, it works.

The magi have a right to defend their turf, that's not a problem IMO.

Building stuff for the king, now... well, I think that's a matter of politics. It's generally accepted for covenants to make deals with mundanes, including with nobles, and getting land is a paramount concern for covenants. I think interpreting the "do not meddle in the affairs of mundanes" bit of the Code is a wide-open issue in Hermetic law, and it can go either way, but most tribunals would not want to prohibit covenants from purchasing land in return for erecting mundane-looking stuff like a watchtower or harbor; changing the island's landscape to form a natural harbor, however, that's a different matter, as is constructing extraordinary structures such as a double-curtained massive wall, or a single-stone massive tower for the king to use as his castle. Nothing that's magical or effectively so, so as to not encourage nobles to strongly desire a magus' aid, thereby creating pressure to have court wizards.

I discussed this with Laura (Severin, in our saga) and she will have Severin argue with the king for a lighthouse (with a mighty CrIg spell on it, but looking mundane) and prime quality quarried stone for his castle (under construction) but not the harbor. Severin will also claim the right to build a harbor in the Calf if the magi want to ("right of harbouration"... dunno if that was a prerrogative of the kings at this time) and see if he can come out with it.

The king is a vitki (even if Severin does not know it, and my players do not seem to recall this from their reading of the HP articles on Mann), so he knows that the magi can use magic to achieve some stuff that would be difficult by mundane means, even if he has not much idea of what hermetic magic can do, and certainly understimates the power of hermetics ATM. The negotiations will not be easy, and he will ask for a few magical defences here and there, the killing of a pair of dragons, and a few more things (and that only after knowing the restrictions on dealing with mundanes imposed by the code), and bargain down from there in the usual way. The final agreement should be in the lines of the mentioned deal, since Severin is starting by offering a minor magic item (a doublet of impenetrable silk).

At this point Severin is the only magus in the adventures, even if an elementalist (Aquam) flambeau is likely to be moving to the covernant as well in brief time. An herbam and an aquam magus in a forested island probably means a shipyard developing in brief time as well, so that is another option for a settlement with the king....


I think this is fine on all counts.

It's not mundane interference IMO to take over management of a plot of land. It is probably not mundane interference to develop that land (building the harbor). Whether it is interference to build the harbor depends on how much the king benefits from that harbor. I would think it would be fine if all it does is boost a bit of tax revenue. It would be more questionable if for example the Calf of Man were a strategic naval harbor.

With regard to fighting off invaders, killing any large number of mundanes is questionable IMO because magi can defend themselves without resorting to lethal force. For instance one can summon powerful winds to blow an invading fleet back across the sea. So whether a covenant gets into trouble over defending the island depends on whether they do it in a reasonable way. Simply entering into an agreement where they're in the position of potentially having to defend the island is no problem.

YMMV and all that.