The subject says it all: do (unGifted) Larta magi vote? I do not mean "could they vote" - as in the case of unGifted Redcaps, who could technically vote, but won't do so except in a dire emergency because of custom. I really mean "do they usually vote".
From what I recall the Larta Magi were, at first, an issue of contention because the Maga in question was 'thought' to be a gifted maga for most of her career until, in some sort of scandal, it was revealed that they were not. Then, in some extreme politiking, Jerbiton managed to manuever and get them legitimized like Redcaps. Likely with the backing of Mercere, IIRC.
I don't recall if their voting rights/traditions, beyond the fact that they are officially recognized as Magi, have been addressed.
Personally I would imagine hardnosed old-school types would think they shouldn't even be recognized as Magi under the code. Especially given that there was deception involved. I would think any 'Larta Magi' attempting to frequently exercise their vote in person should expect frequent challenges of Certamen and, unless there is a local gifted Jerbiton who is awesome at Certamen and likes you ( or another like champion ), you must default. Gifted Magi in this historical/cultural context would often be -offended- at a non-gifted person seeking to act as their equal in their own 'society' as in were.
The Redcaps even are expected to proxy their vote, and they are for more accepted/less controversial than the Larta Magi. For them to seek to act in a more bold fashion than Redcaps I could only see having a negative reaction.
Recaps serve a purpose, fulfill a function, even though that isn't what they were recognized 'for'... so much as the pity and affection of the other founders for Mercere and his efforts to still assist the Order. They visibly have a contribution that they bring to the Order which makes most, if not all, Magi treat them with a healthy dose of common respect... even the ones that typically are rather disdainful of mundanes usually aren't too bad to a Redcap for this reason. They are part of the Order -and- they bring something to the table.
Larta Magi don't have this automatic assumption that they are bringing something to table, as it were, that Redcaps do. So I would expect worse treatment and/or having to prove themselves individually, outside of friendly Jerbiton company.
First, it should be mentioned that, technically, Larta magi do nothing in 5th ed - because there are no Larta magi in 5th ed canon. They were not carried over (or have not been so far) officially. Unofficially, whatever floats yer boat.
That said, iirc, the example given in the books was a Larta character with Enchanting Musical Ability. The idea behind allowing them Hermetic Magi status was not to pad a vote or believing they had relevant or valued insight into Hermetic political concerns, but to protect them under the Code from abuses that might otherwise be suffered if they were labeled as "mundanes". No harm, no scrying, etc. - the works.
And they were rare - not every Supernatural Ability bard was qualified to become Larta - only the most exceptional, both exceptionally gifted (small "g") magically as well as exceptionally bright, talented and cultured in a spectrum of areas - renaissance men and women, before there were such.
(Or that's how I remember it, anyway, and fondly.)
So, no - I don't believe they voted, nor were ever intended to. (That may have been one of the few points in their favour when the issue came up in Tribunal, or one of the many concession made.)
(But it wouldn't surprise me a bit if we had the original author lurking about, or editor or some such. Someone who can speak with much more authority than a mere reader and "iirc".)
Actually they are canonical in 5th edition: they are mentioned in Houses of Hermes: True Lineages. p.93:
"A few of these Redcaps are adopted into the Order
for the sole purpose of encouraging their unique talents.
They do not carry messages, trade vis, or protect the
Order, but instead spend their apprenticeship developing
their art to levels of phenomenal virtuosity. By arrangement,
some of these heralds of the age are invited to join
House Jerbiton after swearing the Oath, where they are
encouraged to practice their art as “Larta magi.” Not all of
them pass through House Mercere, but it is less controversial
than Houses adopting unGifted followers directly,
and it may be possible for Redcaps to join other Houses
in the same way."
I would think that would be a topic of considerable controversy in some circles, though... if they are trained and inducted by the Mercere first, and then passed to another House, there is very little anyone could do about it without confronting House Mercere itself. And that is some considerable protection for this minority of Larta types.
Yes, it is really too bad that the author decided to include this, in effect writing part of someone else's chapter on the Jerbiton, and it's also too bad that the Line Editor did not catch it and stop it. You'll note that they do not exist in the Jerbiton chapter, which, if they should have been anywhere, that would be the place. They should be errated out entirely.
The idea of Larta Magi is best left to old editions. If House Jerbiton wants to allow artists in their House, that's fine, but I can't really see any other House recognizing them as magi. And certainly if they tried to vote, I could see other Houses stacking the deck with unGifted people to sway votes too. Why not let grogs in as magi? They are just as useful to an average covenant as some troubador.
Imagine this scenario: (1) Larta Magi are allowed in House Jerbiton with the rights of all magi. (2) Larta magus casts a vote to break a tie. (3) Red Caps stop delivering the mail. Why should they keep doing their jobs when you can get the benefit of being a magus without contributing anything to the Order? (4) House Tytalus wants to do some grand scheme to jerk around a Tribunal. They show up with a gaggle of mercenaries to cast votes to rig an election. (5) Tribunal is in chaos and everyone has to have their covenfolk cast votes to keep from being swamped.
I agree that they're controversial, but not that House Mercere has much influence over them. They're basically Redcaps who have left House Mercere and been accepted into another House by the primus, and as Redcaps they are full magi but should not vote. In fact, they should try to stay out of sight as much as possible, because like Redcaps they probably have to forfeit any certamen challenge put to them. I imagine the same circumstances hold true for any hedge wizards who have been invited to join Ex Miscellanea or one of the other Houses.
It's a point of cooperation between the Mercere and the Jerbiton, as I envisioned it. The essential idea explored in that section is: what happens to a Redcap if he leaves the House? Is he still a magus? Is he still a Redcap? Larta magi are a good example of that in the Ars Magica history, I thought, and a great source of contention in the Order (partly because of how disliked they are). The way I wrote it, it is something that happens, but there aren't any details about where or when. It could be that Jerbiton doesn't do it any more, and that's totally cool with me.
Keep in mind that when True Lineages was written, Sanctuary of Ice was still in print, having been published only two years previously. While it's no longer canon, a lot of players used it (and still use it) to define what House Jerbiton is all about in their saga. Larta magi are a big part of the Valnastium chapter in that book. On True Lineages, none of us had any idea who the author of the Jerbiton chapter would be or what he or she would choose to include, but the description of the House from that book seemed a likely indicator at the time, and so I included the mention of Larta magi to give support for them if any players desired it. Those who don't like the story potential, just ignore it. Really, it's all good.
It's an interesting political situation I think, especially for a Grand Tribunal. Let's say the Prima of House Tytalus has indeed invited a group of former grogs into her House, and declared them magi. The Quaesitors probably have to sign off on that, but let's say they do, perhaps because they've been taught for fifteen years or something. Even then, all the high muckety-mucks of other Houses are going to be up in arms about it. There is no way these soldiers are equals to other magi. Then Tytalus gets indignant and insists that if their special magi are bad, well, the Larta ones are bad too, and the Redcaps as well, not to mention unGifted Ex Misc. This brings in Ex Misc, Jerbiton, and Mercere into the issue on their side, and possibly Bonisagus and Guernicus too. Cool, much political maneuvering. Ultimately the issue is moot, because the opposition will just declare Wizards' War on the grogs, and problem solved.
#3 in your list probably doesn't happen, though, because the reason Redcaps do their jobs is so they don't get challenged to certamen on every little thing, or have Wizards' Wars declared on them like in the previous scenario, or get declared Orbus and Marched because no other House will take them in.
Actually, the grogs are instructed to vote against being allowed to vote, and their votes are just enough to tilt the result against themselves. Paradox ensues and Tytalus win their greatest coup ever.
The only requirement to be a magus is to swear the Oath. If the Quaesitors are required to sign off, then the Quaesitors had to have signed off on Larta Magi too. Why would they have done it? Who knows? Why did House Jerbiton expend its political resources to get them in? None of this is explained because they don't exist in the Jerbiton Chapter. In any event, if the Quaesitors did it for the Larta, they would be bound by precedent to do it again for the Tytali grogs. Any argument for allowing in unGifted groups beyond Red Caps can be used to allow in the Tytalus grogs, Flambeau knights, Criamon philosophers, Bonisagi lab assistants, etc.
I don't have a problem with Red Caps retiring after a life of service. I don't know why they would have to go to House Jerbiton to do it. I take issue with the introduction of "Larta Magi." This is a loaded term that has much baggage. In previous editions, they were artists who were invited in to House Jerbiton with full rights as magi. Like much in past editions, this was introduced without an explanation as to why other Houses would allow it, whether they could vote, and if they could, why other Houses didn't do the same thing. Just like you say many magi would not accept grogs as their equals; there is no way artists would be accepted as equals. The more militant magi, especially among the Flambeau, barely accept Gifted hedge wizards as members of the Order. Are they going to accept some unGifted artist? I see the average Larta Magi getting flambéed the first time he runs across an uppity Flambeau apprentice. The disrespect the Order feels for hedge wizards is reflected in the Hedge Wizard Flaw. Where's the Flaw for Larta Magi?
There are just too many unexplained, and in my opinion unexplainable, things that would have to happen to get Larta Magi into the Order. As you know, because you wrote it, there is a reason that Mercere was allowed to stay in the Order after losing his Gift. This was an exceptional event in the Order. Allowing the Larta Magi in just cheapens it. You don't need to part of a true lineage. You don't have to devote your life to the service of the Order. You just have to be a good singer, as decided by House Jerbiton to get the honor. This is too far fetched for me. The Hedge Magic, RE, introduction talks about unGifted hedge wizards going into House Ex Misc. The section states that they need to be considered powerful, i.e. mythic companion level, wizards to be accepted into the Order. Why are Larta different? It's not explained because it's just a throw away line in the Mercere chapter.
The Larta magi mentioned in True Lineages started out as Redcaps, spending fifteen years in the typical Redcap apprenticeship, and were then invited to join House Jerbiton. The book also says that not all of them did it this way, but that it's less controversial for unGifted magi to join the Order through that method. (I was thinking that others were apprentices of the former.) The Quaesitor sign off would come when the Redcap swears the Oath. From that point forward, he's a magus with all the rights of a magus, right? And he has the ability to switch Houses if another House will take him. If one of those unGifted magi trained an apprentice, what House would the new magus be? You see how this is possible?
You mean, why would they allow a Redcap to join House Jerbiton? I don't know. I guess it depends on the Redcap. Maybe the first of these "Larta magi" was a close friend to the Jerbiton primus. It might make an interesting story, a legend in the Order. A lot of players like to be able to go back and develop famous magi into mythic figures. Maybe Larta was a Legendary Artist?
I agree. I suspect a similar argument took place back in 817 when the Tribunal voted to allow House Mercere to name unGifted men and women magi. If you let in the Redcaps, why can't you let in others? Maybe that's why some of the Houses went along with it, with the expectation that they could introduce their own unGifted magi. I mean, that's a vote block right there. Wouldn't Tremere have been all over that? Politically it's a difficult situation, though, because as long as the Redcaps aren't voting, there's no reason to do it; you don't get any more votes. But after a Tribunal where a bunch of Redcaps break tradition and vote, I could see this suddenly becoming an issue.
It sounds to me like whether or not unGifted magi can vote would be an interesting issue to bring up at Grand Tribunal, because until it's written into the Peripheral Code that they can't, it would seem that they can. Indeed, you could even read it that they must, because it's part of the Oath that they will have one vote and use it wisely, the emphasis there being the reading they might suggest. You would have to specifically change the Oath that Redcaps and other unGifted magi swear in order to say that they don't actually get a vote. Such a motion would be unlikely to pass, I think. I expect magi have come to the same conclusion, and just make sure they don't vote with judicious application of certamen and Wizards' War. So Redcaps and Larta and hedge wizards and so on all have to be very careful not to offend others, or risk being made an example.
The House Guernicus chapter probably should have covered this issue, since it's really a Code issue, but since the House Mercere chapter had a section on Redcaps and Redcaps are the most common unGifted magi, that's where it went. Again, we didn't know what was going to go in the Jerbiton chapter of Societates when we were hashing out the legal stuff for True Lineages. I vaguely remember there being some concerns about making Fourth Edition character concepts invalid, but I could be mistaken about that.
I know. If I could go back, I'd probably not use the name Larta. But a lot of players like authors to keep the old lore as well as add to it. Not much was known about Larta, and so this seemed like an interesting addition. Please, if they offend you, just don't use them. They don't have to be there if you don't want them there.
I agree, that disrespect is nicely represented by that Flaw, and it's part of the Redcap Virtue, too. I suggest Larta magi should have one of those. Or the Lone Redcap Virtue, which is also appropriate since I doubt House Mercere is making items and longevity rituals for these folks. And as for other Virtues, I think Maestro from Art and Academe would be a good choice. Or one of the Goliards/Ordo Vagorum...
No, I mean why would the Order allow House Jerbiton to grant unGifted magi the benefits of joining the Order and create Larta magi in the first place? I don't see it ever happening. I don't see the Quaesitors going along with it. I don't see any Tribunal ever approving it. Membership in the Order is restricted to the Gifted and those able to command powerful magics. Red Caps are an exception, and they should be the one and only exception. The Order is a collection of magi after all. Red Caps are in the Order because they are descended from a Founder, a true lineage, they devote their lives to the service of the Order, and they don't push their luck by voting at Tribunal. It strains credibility to say that some troubador, singer, painter, etc. is going to get the same level of respect throughout the Order and be allowed membership. Maybe a one-off person who does a great service to the Order could get in, but just because House Jerbiton appreciates your artistic contributions to society, isn't going to sway any other House to vote to allow you in.
In any event, if an unGifted Red Cap changes Houses, shirking his duties and abandoning his sodales, you would think that the other members of House Mercer would take care of the traitor and punish anyone who gave him aid and comfort. I would think that the average militant magus would find this non-Gifted apostate Red Cap and toast him too.
Huh? But they didn't. The Order let House Mercere make unGifted magi in 817. Subsequently, a Redcap switched from House Mercere to House Jerbiton. Redcaps who do this are called Larta magi. That's all there is to it; there's nothing in the Code that says magi can't switch Houses if they want, or that denies Redcaps this privilege.
What could they do to stop it? If you've got an idea, I'm all ears. I figure these rascals are kept in check by certamen and threat of Wizard's War. As long as they continue the tradition of not voting like other Redcaps, I imagine they would be left alone.
I agree, an unGifted person can't just be invited into the Order. But note that the description in True Lineages says that they are invited to join House Jerbiton after they swear the Oath as Redcaps, and notes that this is "by arrangement." They are Redcaps who join another House. They are chosen by their masters because of their talents and taught for fifteen years like all other magi, and then after they are accepted into the Order as full magi, they change Houses. They're already in the Order.
Hmm, maybe. I didn't imagine it that way when I wrote the chapter, but there's nothing to say it couldn't be that way. House Mercere is pretty merciful to Redcaps who shirk their duties, as the section on Lone Redcaps in Mercere hints; I would think it would take an awful lot before they were willing to declare a Redcap a traitor. They are kind of clannish, though, and very family-oriented. If someone basically left the family, there would have to be a good reason, or else they would probably be ostracized and shunned. Like, imagine Larta was the daughter of the Jerbiton Primus, for example, or marrying a Jerbiton magus. Joining House Jerbiton might make sense in those circumstances. And I don't think House Mercere would expect a member of House Jerbiton to carry out any Redcap duties, though they might expect that House Jerbiton will have other duties for them to carry out instead.
Besides, can't any magus join House Jerbiton, as long as they have an interest in the same things the House does? I thought that was what being a Societas means, a collection of like-minded magi. The Order books don't really cover what it's like for magi who switch Houses. How does that work for others, I wonder? Do they just tell people they're a Jerbiton now? Do they apply for membership via the primus? Do they need a sponsor, and do they have to undergo a new apprenticeship? I guess I've always imagined it's handled between the primus and the applicant. The primus decides if someone is no longer a member of the House, so presumably he also decides if someone can join it. What else is needed?
That, alone, makes ample sense - but that's not (I believe) what most understand the term "Larta mage" to mean. (And certainly that's not what it meant if one is carrying over the term from earlier editions.)
To me, and the way that others are speaking of it, it's the admission to the Order by House Jerbiton of unGifted (but perhaps supernaturally exceptional) mundanes.
If "Larta" is being completely redefined, then, again, it's being done so via a very backdoor manner.
Well, all right, True Lineages doesn't actually define what a Larta magus is. It just says that some Redcaps are invited to join House Jerbiton "as Larta magi." What I'm defending is how the Order would treat those particular magi, the ones that were former Redcaps, as part of Fifth Edition canon. Again, I didn't know when writing it how the author of the Jerbiton chapter would address them once the time came, so I tried to be vague. That vagueness works in your favor if you want to say they don't exist; you can redefine them or not as you please.
Redcap switches house. OK with it. He still cannot vote since he is not gifted. He trains a guy. OK. The guy will not be recognized as a Magus. It is the same as a noble training a peasant as a knight: it will not be recognized as a gentleman regardless of skills: he ius just not the right stock.
Jerbitons can do whatever they want in their intra house stuff, but at tribunal their minions will be only considered to be property of the jerbiton covenants. A companion.
The companion tries to vote, the vote is not accepted at all and the guy is sumarily executed by an angry magus. The magus is fined a pawn of vis for destruction of the jerbiton property. End of story. He can be prosecuyrted mundanely for killing a person, but that is another matter.
Unless the dude is exceptional AND the tribunal has voted to include him as a (weak) magus because he has encnanting music 28 or 50 and so can do some REALLY MINOR spell-like effects he is more likely to be killed than accepted.
Being a useful or pretty tool does not make you a magus. The mona lisa is not a magus. A breathing mona lisa is not a magus either, only a piece of art. Swearing the oath does not make you a magus. I can swear the oath to be a president of the USA, but that does not make me that if people do not accept it. And I would lack thwe requisites to be that. Same for the Larta. He is just an impostor magus (at best).