Experiences with the Tytalus Debate Rules

I'm curious what people's experiences are with the Debate Rules from the Tytalus chapter of House of Hermes: True Lineages.

Has anyone made us of them in their saga? Did it work well? Any best practices or tips? I'm considering introducing them for an upcoming tribunal and I would appreciate suggestions.

In our previous IRL saga, I used them when the PCs were judged in the great tribunal for having discussed with the so called Order of Odin a truce and an alliance against Damhan Allaid and the rebellious members of the Order of Odin.

I had prepared the great tribunal with exact numbers of a priori pro/contra and abstentions and used the rules to vary those for the final calcul.


Did you find them effective? Where the rules understandable to the players? Did the outcome feel odd or natural?

Essentially, did they add to your game or were they an unnecessary distraction?

They are effective since they let players translate all those beautiful discourses they do into numbers, and prevent players who are more at ease with RP than their character to decide the outcome only by RP. Reversely, it allowed the players who are less at east in RP to have a great impact since their characters were optimised in debate.

It was effective because I had no idea what their argument could have win as support in the tribunal assembly (in fact it was the Rome Special tribunal. They were judged by house guernicus).
And no. They provided the same fun as a certamen or a combat: the characters emphase on the results and hope good rolls. They know that speaking RP is fine, but that they will have rolls. At the contrary, they also knew that, even if their RP arguments were lacking sense, they could make up for it by good rolls.

We have used them extensively in our saga. One of the PCs is a Redcap that is extremely good in social skills (so much better than the magi, since he has no Arts or related magical skills to drain his xp) and is the official spokesman of the Covenant, in particular at Tribunals. Note that according to HoH:TL, it is an accepted practice for absentee magi to allow Redcap proxies not only to speak for them at Tribunal, but to cast the absentees' votes under specific voting instructions.

While the debate rules are obviously designed to have the same "flavour" of certamen, they lack of Arts and vis makes them somewhat less interesting. In particular, at low skill levels it's fun to try and outmaneuver your opponent selecting those skills that will provide you with a +3 bonus and him with a -3 penalty; but in the long run, it pays off to specialize in just one attack and one defense skill (particularly if the character also has an affinity/puissance), which reduces the tactical variety. On the other hand, an interesting tactical aspect of debate that is absent from certamen is that you can try to go for more "ambitious" goals, such as a complete revision of the peripheral code, with a correspondingly greater risk of failure - or try for a lesser goal, say a clarification of the code, with a correspondingly higher probability of success.

One alternative I would strongly recommend, since it's really, really, really a lot of fun, is to use the debate rules adapted from Dynasties and Demagogues that you can download for free from the Atlas Ars Magica 5th edition website. They are similar to the HoH:S rules, but instead of allowing you just to choose one of three skills for attack and for defense, they allow a large number of really cool "maneuvers" (like "the big lie", "distracting patter", "sly insinuations") with extremely interesting mechanical twists that also make the debate "come alive". The urls are:

atlas-games.com/pdf_storage/ArMDynDebate.pdf for the actual rules and

atlas-games.com/pdf_storage/ ... nTable.pdf for the maneuver interaction table.

I have read the dynasties and demagogue rules, but they are exactly the kind of rule my group wouldn't follow: too much details. certamen-like rules (6 attack total, and the SG has to check other things) is easy.

My Tytalus use the debate rules when her apprentice wanted to get her gauntelet...
Rules are clear, even if in that case no one won (I decided after some time that she merited to get her gauntlet...)
most of my characters have the 6 abilities for debate as it is really interesting, even if not tytalus