Defending your Covenant

I have a question to throw to the masses that's related to events happening in my saga right now.

What would you do if your covenant was found guilty of a major crime at Tribunal (either legitimately or not) and the lot of you Marched? Obviously, taking the fight to your accusers is impossible, as the entire order (or, at least, the entire local Tribunal) is now set against you. You're a bunch of die-hards (I'll explain further below) determined to defend your ground to the very last man, you have a siege mentality and you're willing to sow the ground with salt rather than have (what you consider) opportunists run off with your hard work.

In my saga I took a line from HoH:Mystery Cults, in which the new Verditius Primus was considering moving the Domus Magnus to the Theban tribunal and thought of the worst possible outcome for this decision. Considering the fiery temperament of the Veriditius, I decided that the house had split into three camps; Veriditius loyal to the new Primus, Verditius loyal to the House and those loyal to the Domus Magnus. The first group is composed mostly of friends, sycophants, etc of the Primus (I forget his name). The second is the largest group, willing to weather the change, figuring it to be temporary, yet sympathetic to the traditionalists. The third group is mostly older magi, very conservative (for Verditius) and mostly Sardinian or Sicilian.

None of my PCs are Verditius, so in-game I told them Verditius were being recalled from their respective Covenants, barring one or two freshly gauntleted magi who were left to represent House interests abroad. They debated and eventually decided to follow the Primus' wishes and began the transfer of power to the new DM in the Theban tribunal. At this point the Old Guard decided to schism, walling themselves inside Verdi along with centuries worth of equipment, trinkets, books. This last desperate action has led the rest of the Verdi to renounce them as Verditius and announce that they are imposters holding the covenant to ransom.

My question:

  1. Given the resources of the Domus Magnus, how would you defend yourself against the coming flood?

Not sure that there is any advice. A Marched magus generally tries to run away, live their life outside the reach of the Order.
Are you wanting to play out the endgame, or are you wanting to somehow survive and be restored to the Order, like Pralix was after establishing Ordo Miscellanea?

This is an interesting idea.

I have a couple of questions for you to consider:

  1. Have the magi at Verdi been Marched? Or has their House just renounced them? If the first, one what grounds? Which Tribunal Marched them? If the latter, (and this might influence the vote at Tribunal to March them or not) there are several Houses that might like to offer them a new ex misc; Tytalus; even Bonisagus depending on how you run that house and how aquisitive they are. There are a lot of powerful/interesting magic items in Verdi...

  2. Regardless of that, the rest of House Verditius will a) want to kill those renegades; and b) not destroy the magic items in Verdi. This means that they are unlikely to make a full assault on the place and might have to rely on subtle magics and sneak kills.

  3. How big of a schism war do you want? If Verdi's magi can gain enough political and/or magical allies, then they might be able to survive for a long time with a sort of 'cold war' going on; or you can have all out war; or House Verditius deals with the whole problem without involving others.

In any case, Verdi should have the very best defenses of any covenant anywhere in the Order, since they have had centuries to make magic items to defend the place. In one saga I played in, the whole covenant had been enchanted to become a massive battle robot or mechwarrior crossed with a Transformer...

Have fun!

Heh, cool! I'm not sure I would definitely rank Verdi as the worst covenant to take on, but I would certainly put it in say the top three. Lycaneon in Transylvania has insane amounts of materials stashed away going back to the Schism War, and could conceivably hold out for year, as well as having the Tremere Hermes Portal for bringing in reinforcements. Also I recall reading that both Castra Solis (DM of Flambeau) and Magvillus (DM of Guernicus) have very impressive defenses as well, the first more in terms of magic than physical defenses, and the second with a very sturdy fortress and those nasty Cult of Mercury ritual spells. Almost any of the DMs would be very tough nuts to crack; good luck finding Irencillia if you want to attack it, and don't expect to see some of your troops for the next hundred years!

That all being said, I would feel a lump in my stomach at the very thought of trying to take on Verdi; having just seen Iron Man 3 the other day, I'm imaging it would be a bit like taking on a fortress full of vis-packing Tony Starks! A few random thoughts:

  1. Disposable one-shot and charged items up the ying-yang, probably with very high Penetration totals. Lots of ranged Creo and Perdo attacks setting the attackers on fire or rusting all their equipment, cutting through Parmas like butter.

  2. Buried defensive items surrounding the structure that can be remotely activated from within; I see lots of folks being swallowed up by the ground, etc.

  3. A vault full of Arcane Connections to various nearby areas, both to facilitate Imagonem recon and allow magi and other personnel to appear out of nowhere and attack.

  4. Two words: War. Automata.

  5. An Aegis of the Hearth of truly epic proportions.

Those are just a few things off the top of my head, but you can really have a field day coming up with new combat spells and items!

(Yes, I am playing a Tremere in our current saga; why do you ask?)

The Primus prolly has some knowledge or items that would give him the upper hand in case of mutiny.

They've been renounced, but as far as they're concerned they're the legitimate Verdi, and all those other guys are pretenders. The Theban Verdi see them as squatters. A few of the younger Verdi who yet sympathise with the traditionalists have made overtures with other houses to take them in, but the bulk (I'm thinking no more than a dozen, mostly older magi) of them are die hards who won't budge.

Yeah. I'm guessing they've already made an attempt, and will declare open season once it's apparent they can't break in any further.

I see the thing blowing up. Verditius would realistically try to fix things in-house without involving others, but that makes for dull stories happening in the background, whereas getting the players to take sides in a big fight is always more fun :slight_smile:

Awesome, thank you!

Hehe, excellent ideas. Thank you.



I can see most mundanes in both sides dying REALLY fast when blows start to fly around, so it will end up being a verditius vs verditius conflict. And one without magic items, I would say. Why? because items do not have magic resistance, and they will be neutralized quite easily with the senior magi in each camp.

The alternative is artillery duels. Arcane connection artillery magic like PeCo or MuMe or stuff like that. Animating forests, collapsing buildings.... In the end, the island will be quite torn up. If you have not defined this yet, you might want to have Corsica and Sardinia be a single island BEFORE the conflict starts, only becoming 2 islands after the war. Can make for a few awesome scenes of magic craft.


Given the House in question, I don't think it will come to war at all. This looks like Vendetta rite large, and I think, would play out much the same way, with the Order "picking the winner". Verditius do not go to war, they make themselves very useful while other people do the fighting.......

Did you mean the Order, or the House would pick the winner? If you meant the Order, I'd say no. The Grand Tribunal's decades off, and the local Tribunal had an emergency meeting and sent an emissary from the Guernicus to find out what the eff was going on, but were politely told "mind your own business, these are House affairs."

In my saga: bonds between houses are weak, relying on traditions and laws that haven't been tested properly in a while. The Order as a whole needs a shake up, there's a cabal that's moving to drop (or significantly dilute) the order's restrictions on dealings with mundane folk. So far they have good dealings with senior clergy. The Jerbiton are very much the driving force in the Roman Tribunal. For now.

As for the Verditius themselves picking a winner. I see this current situation arising out of a failure to do that. The Theban Verdi have "won" but a small contingent have remained behind to spite them, which I figured was more in the spirit of the house. Maybe you're right though, maybe they'll pretend to capitulate after a short period of symbolic protest, choosing not to risk their covenant, their treasures, their history. Then, when things have smoothed over, in a decade or two, fabricate a reason to take down all those that stood against them.

I do mean the Order, not the House. I am not talking about a formal vote, but about which side the Order in general will favor. It's going to be a fight over and about Reputation. Very shadow fighting. There will not be attacks on Covenants, no. "Shame the magic item you were commissioned to make for the Archmage went missing on the road. Just what you might expect from someone so thoughtless they support the false Primus. That was a lot of Viz too. Need a loan?".......

1st Politics:
Diehards defending his covenant, honor, valor, bravery.... That call hands down for flambeau allies. Search them and you will find them

2nd guts:
How many are you? If enough be like pralix, fundate your own house like to the order or not.

3rd left hand:
Convince how many you can to stipullate that; if we are marched the primus will recieve a lot of redcaps charging letters with the words "wizzard war" on it.

4th Nuts:

I did nothing, but i have nothing to lose.... Have you?

I can think more if you want :wink:

The other obvious question: are the Theban Verditius declaring Wizard War on the rival faction? If not, then inevitably the Rome Tribunal will become involved in cases of slaying, deprivation of magical power, or attempts to do the same, as a Magus renounced by their house does not immediately cease to be a member of the Order (and may simply be deemed to be Ex Misc anyway).

I'd also worry about the Tremere. This has the potential for wide-scale disorder and lawlessness, and that is exactly the sort of thing which would cause them to take action within the Code to restore order to the Order. If the two sides cannot keep a lid on their differences, the Tremere may step in and resolve them by force.

That's just what the Theban Verditius did, the problem isn't that the Old Guard (I'm calling them that because Verdi Verditius is making my mind bleed) have been renounced, it's that they are squatting in the covenant, refusing to leave even though they've been renounced. The Tribunal has already become involved

A good point. The Tremere haven't quite gelled together in my head and I've rather left them out of things. For now the problem is contained to the Roman Tribunal, as messengers from other covenants/tribunals have been gently rebuffed with statements like "this is a Verditius problem, please respect our right to control our own affairs." As soon as it spills out into open war, then the Tremere will dirty their hands.

Actually it's a good opportunity for them to step in and make the Guernicus look bad. "See, I sorted this problem, what were you doing?"

Please do!

Except that a covenant belongs to its members, not to the House, even if it used to be the Domus Magna of that House. If the magi of the "Old Guard" were members of the covenant before the trouble started, they are still members of the covenant now. It doesn't matter whether they are still considered part of House Verditius or not. They are still magi and members of the covenant. It's their home, legally recognized as such.

Now, the new Primus may request that they turn over all of the items that belong to the House -- provided it was clear that these actually belong to the House and not to the covenant. Otherwise they don't really have a leg to stand on. They'd get opposed by the Tremere, as previously noted, but also by the Guernicus (who don't want to see another Schism War weaken their position). Bonisagi of the Trianoma's tradition would try to broker a peaceful resolution, for sure. Flambeau magi could join each side, as would Tytalus.

Now, if the "Old Guard" were not members of the covenant when the trouble started, then they are indeed squatters and have no legal ground to remain there.

It gets interesting if, from the members of the covenant, half are "Old Guard" and half are "Upstarts". Still, that would be an internal covenant matter -- anyone else getting involved (including the Primus) would have no legal ground.

Just to clarify terminology. Renounced means membership in the Order of Hermes is revoked, and you're being hunted by hoplites of the Order, and any magus is free to kill you on sight. It's usually an exit the character from the saga maneuver, or leave them as a foe being hunted by the PCs...

This sounds more and more like the Primus declared them orbus from the House, which means they typically have a year to find membership in another House, and if they haven't, they are considered renounced. Now the Roman Tribunal may consider this an internal matter, and decide that these Verditius aren't to be marched. Other Tribunals, especially the Theban Tribunals may consider them marched. Issues of cross Tribunal strikes, and so on.

If the orbus issue is a problem, meaning the Roman Tribunal recognizes that they are no longer part of House Verditius, they could easily be absorbed in to ex Misc, as was mentioned earlier, just need to find one magus to sponsor them. Some Flambeau might be willing to sponsor them, too, same with Tytalus. What's more they probably have enough numbers to continue passing on the Verditius mystery as part of the tradition of whatever House they join.

I troubleshoot for what I think of as a youth team of gamers (most of them are young enough to be my kids!), helping when they have issues with their stories, and (hopefully) helping with the actual mechanics, as well as plot ideas and pre-gen NPCs.

About 9 months ago, their campaign had the Verdi conflict. Which, "due to player intervention, and character incompetence" turned into an all-out open war within the house. I got called in to help, and my first piece of advice to the SG was to start playing AC/DC while thinking about how the Verdi would behave...

(Back In Black comes on the computer) "Is this from Iron Man?" /facepalm...


With EVERYTHING they have at their disposal. The group I'm talking about, having incited all-out war by botching, triggering Hubris, and generally negotiating peace like arms dealers, ran messages across the entire order calling in favours, debts, and even blackmailing people to attend Verdi to assist the defenders. Both sides sent messages to Houses Tytalus, Flambeau and ex Misc.

The Guernicus turned up, and were told to leave before things got dangerous. (about 2 minutes later, one got flattened by a deliberately triggered lab explosion)

Iron Man 3 is a good viewpoint to start from, but remember, that's one magus with a theme. There are a bunch of them here, and they all have their own specialities.

A few highlights from the battle :
Power Armoured grogs doing a suicidal frontal charge on the attacking encampment, while wrapped in Parma, invisible, silent, and armed with the best mundane weapons the mage could find. ably represented by Lego men.

Spider automata mounts (think wild wild west) firing AoE BoAF into any clumps of targets. represented by a real tarantula until it got bored, thereafter by a plastic glass.

Hover-Tanks firing lightning.

Summoned Eleentals, fiery humanoids and similar.

Automata Cavalry.

Awakened Automaton "Marauder" - player controlled, represented by a teddy bear. (no BattleTech mini available)

Air Cavalry (Griffins, broomsticks, flying boats etc.)

Static defense cannons, mines, barbed wire.

A One-man five drone team, controlled by a player. (Star Wars Ep 4 training drones in a backpack, set to point defense).

Ritual spellcasting team (Mercurians) acting as artillery.

Hoplite mage hunters doing what they do. (Only live captures were by them!)

An NPC Verdi who arrived late to the battle driving his mobile laboratory straight through the attackers lines, running several over before parking, and deploying a heat ray wielding war of the worlds war machine.

A dragon, an automata dragon, an awakened device dragon, an illusionary dragon, and a shapechanged grog-dragon.

Giant moles and badgers attacking from beneath.

House Tytalus reps from both sides meeting on the battlefield and stopping for a chat.

and of course, rabid squirrel attack.

Lots more, but it took about 6 hours to run.

They are currently (9 months on real time) still dealing with the backlash and political ramifications. They lost >40% of the house, most of the non-Verditius recruits, and the entire Primogeniture lineage (due to a mis-communication with the Merenita ritual combat team).
It's being referred to as a min-Schism war.


OTOH, one has to wonder how you'd attack a covenant.

There's the obvious: target the Aegis.

But, especially against verditius, there's a very effective thing to do: Perdo (form) structure effects, with added magnitudes if the structure is pretty big.

This can be frighteningly effective, especially as, if this is cast from inside the Aegis, Penetration is irrelevant for all those items that aren't protected by a Magus Parma. Instilling this in a item is relatively easy, and devastating.
PeTe base 3 (destroy), +2 earth, +2 voice, + 3 struct, +2 size = lvl 40*
Unless I botched my MT roll, this destroys all metal inside the target Structure. Swords and armors, of course, but also portcullis. And including metallic magical items... Which sucks big time, especially for verditius.

Now, a clever magus will vary his items as much as possible. Some will be out of human bones, some of wood, animal bones, Ice, and, assuming that PeTe targets either earth or metal or gemstone (which ain't unreasonnable, is easier to adjudicate and allows for these kind of loopholes, which, imo, is great), stones, metals and diamonds. Still, this is cheap, and can be devastating for most of a covenant's items and defenses. Mostly, all that the defensors can hope is that the attackers don't want to destroy their future loot, which can be quite reasonnable anyway.

  • Note that a troupe would be perfectly within its rights to decree that such a spell needs to be a ritual, which seems reasonnable (IMO, one you begin to add size magnitudes to targets equal or higher than group, you should ask yourself the question)

OK, this question came up during a discussion in our Ars game today: in context, the ReVi specialist (my character) wanted to create a giant ring around the covenant, and cast a low-level Demon's Eternal Oblivion effect on it (lvl 10 DEO, modified with a lvl 10 MuVi effect to change it from T: Individual to T:Ring), in order to deal with a minor demon infestation.

Is this possible? If it is, my thought is that the defenders of a covenant as described in this thread are at a heavy disadvantage, as their general location is known. Using all the spells laid out in Hermetic Projects for wizard's war, and using the aforementioned MuVi spell, you can pretty much target everything in the covenant with R:Touch, T:Ring.

Of course, you have to trace the ring around the covenant - but with some pretty low-level CrHe spells, you can create a 1000 paces of ivy or cotton thread. Then use a ReHe effect to shape it into a giant ring, and float it in the air. Use a low-level Wizard's War spell (as described above), and use a low-level ReVi spell to delay the effect for an hour or two. Move the ring around the covenant, and let it go off.

Using the above example, the "destroy all the dirt around the convent" spell only would be a lvl 5 (PeVi, Base effect 3, R: Touch, T: Ring, Earth +2). And it doesn't need to affect the convent itself - just the dirt around it, as when the spell goes off the covenant will find itself in a perfectly spherical, 1,000-pace pit.

The only real limitation I see on this ability is the Concentration roll necessary to get a Ring effect off - a 1000-pace ring would require 100 concentration rolls. But in reading the rules on Ring, it SOUNDS like you only make the concentration check if you're creating the ring while casting the spell (AM5, pg 112)- if the ring already exists, you don't need to make the check. Is that the case?

The RAW is pretty clear to me.

I'm of two minds on the need for concentration checks, to be honest. I dislike the idea that any magus can cast a ring/circle spell as large as they want, without penalties. But then the penalty for automatically botching if someone breaks it is also a pretty huge penalty/risk. So, I would go with the alternatives outlined for maintaining spells in the Concentration section. Or, if it is a spell mastered with ceremonial mastery skip concentration checks if the duration of tracing extends beyond the ceremonial casting time.

If I'm a demon, and I know the magi are planning on doing this, I'm breaking that ring at an inopportune time. I would instead confine covefolk and grogs to their homes/quarters, and cast multiple ring spells around he individual buildings. There is much less risk that something bad will happen..